broadbandEfforts are underway to build a Nationwide Public Safety Broadband Network (NPSBN), which is intended to provide comprehensive high-speed wireless communications services to the more than 60,000 local and state public safety agencies and organizations nationwide. 

Such a network will allow first responders nationwide to communicate with each other at all times and without delay.  Broadband can help protect the public by facilitating and promoting public safety information and procedures, such as

  • Early warning/public alert systems and disaster preparation programs.
  • Remote security monitoring and real-time security background checks.
  • Backup systems for public safety communications networks and information sharing in a tactical environment.

The First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet), an independent authority within the National Telecommunications & Information Authority (NTIA), is responsible to build, deploy, and operate the network, in consultation with federal, state, tribal and local public safety stakeholders. Federal grant money has been allocated to fund the construction, operation and evolution of the network, with additional grant funds available to support state, regional, tribal and local jurisdictions’ planning efforts. 

This unprecedented and complex project challenges public safety decision makers at all levels, who may be unclear what steps they should take to prepare for its eventual implementation. In particular, local decision makers who purchase, plan for, and implement public safety data and voice technologies have an important role in NPSBN planning and deployment. 

SEARCH is uniquely positioned to support local agencies that want to prepare for their eventual participation in the NPSBN. SEARCH staff have years of public safety communications experience, including running police/fire/EMS communications centers, developing strategic technology plans, analyzing user needs and requirements, and managing communication center renovations.  In addition, SEARCH staff serve on the FirstNet Public Safety Advisory Committee (PSAC), composed of key leaders on public safety communications and interoperability issues who provide input and expertise to the FirstNet Board. 

We are available to answer your questions and provide assistance.

Additional Resources

  • Read our Issue Brief, Prepping for the Nationwide Public Safety Broadband Network. It describes the history of the network; explains the players involved in the effort; and offers steps that local agencies can take now to prepare for the network implementation. 
  • Read our Issue Brief, An Introduction to Long Term Evolution (LTE).  Long Term Evolution, commonly referred to as 4G—or next generation wireless communications—is the new standard for public safety broadband. This brief discusses the advantages and limitations of LTE technologies for public safety. 
  • Listen to a podcast on how the Charlottesville (Virginia) Fire Department has developed practical applications using broadband technology. The region has conducted several trials with multiple broadband vendors and shares those results with SEARCH. Listen to Full Interview  (mp3)