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FirstNet: The Wait is Almost Over

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The remainder of
2017 could be an exciting time for Minnesota’s first responders as state leadership teams work to finalize the FirstNet state plan.

That plan will be considered by Gov. Mark Dayton, who will make a decision on Minnesota’s participation in the dedicated wireless broadband network. From running a license plate during a routine traffic stop, to providing first responders priority access to high-speed data services during major disasters, FirstNet aims to provide game-changing technology for public safety. Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek serves on the FirstNet Board and provides this update on the project.

Meet Minnesota’s newest Communications Unit Leader

Robert Beem recognized as a COMLWhen a large incident takes place within Minnesota, there are teams of communications professionals that head to the front lines. Their mission is to help incident personnel deliver and receive the necessary information they need to respond appropriately. This involves distributing communications equipment (like ARMER radios) and facilitating the use of that equipment. It’s a position so specialized that Communications Unit Leaders (COMLs) and Communications Unit Technicians (COMTs) have to undergo rigorous training.

Recently, the Statewide Emergency Communications Board (SECB) recognized Robert Beem of the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office as the state’s newest COML. Beem is one of 61 COMLs and 19 COMTs recognized by the SECB. Forty other COML and COMT “trainees” are currently working toward full recognition.

Text-to-911 does not equal more work for dispatch centers

Minnesota is in the midst of implementing Text-to-911 service statewide in 2017. While people are still encouraged to call when they can, they can soon text to 911, if:

  • individuals have a speech or hearing impairment.
  • if speaking may cause someone harm, such as in burglary or domestic violence situation.
  • if lack of service eliminates a voice call when data service is present.

Recently, 911 professionals from across the nation gathered in Washington to address concerns that the service would overwhelm 911 dispatch centers. In a panel discussion, PSAP (public safety answering point) officials from Arkansas, Indiana and South Carolina agreed that the impact to workflow has been minimal. FCC Commissioner Mignon L. Clyburn, said that "some jurisdictions are worried that text-to-911 will add cost or be a strain for PSAP personnel. But there is good news to report: Virtually all of the PSAPs that have implemented text-to-911 thus far report that they have been able to make the transition smoothly without disrupting operations."

Read the entire article, reprinted with permission by TRDaily or access it online.

FirstNet announces partnership with AT&T

​In a historic announcement, FirstNet has taken the next major step in providing a nationwide public safety broadband network (NPSBN). FirstNet will partner with AT&T for the next 25 years as they work to build and maintain the much anticipated system. With AT&T as the partner, FirstNet will begin work on a timeline for the network buildout. This includes kickoff meetings as well as development of State Plans, which will identify the tools and resources offered through FirstNet. Governor Dayton will use the Minnesota State Plan proposed by FirstNet to consider the state’s participation in the dedicated wireless broadband network.

Watch why this partnership is being called a promise fulfilled to the public safety community.