POLICE Magazine

FEB 2019

Magazine for police and law enforcement

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20 POLICE FEBRUARY 2019 e primary thing that FirstNet provides for law enforce- ment is priority on a secure network. Transmissions from de- vices identified as belonging to first responders have special status on the network. And in those cases where the network is congested, public safety users have so much priority that the network will actually drop other users to give first responders access. is process is called "preemption." Markley says that FirstNet ran a test during last year's Bos- ton Marathon. Boston first responders were given FirstNet equipped devices, and they were able to communicate and ac- cess data over those devices despite congestion on the network from the throngs of people gathered for the race and the Pa- triot's Day celebration. Boston officials told Markley that their experience with FirstNet was very different from what they ex- perienced on the day of the bombing attack when cellular com- munications went down for hours. Markley says individual agencies and officers want different things from FirstNet. For example, small agencies in areas with very little radio cov- erage are looking to use FirstNet for voice com- munications over cellular phones to augment or supplant land mobile radio networks. Larger agencies want to ensure they have communica- tions during major events, either planned or un- planned. "What they're hoping for is that this will provide a constant stream of communication no matter what happens," he says. Markley, a former assistant chief with the Phoenix Police Department, says he has 30 years of experience running critical incident scenes and he sees great value in first responder net- works for incident commanders. "It's impossible these days to run a major incident on the radio," he says. "You need that person-to-person communications over the phone." VERIZON T he First Responder Core from Verizon is the nation's prima- ry competitor to FirstNet. e Private Responder Core separates first responder data and voice traffic from Verizon's other cellular customers and provides secure remote access to apps and other tools for pub- lic safety professionals. Like FirstNet, Verizon's Private Re- sponder Core gives public safety users priority even to the point of removing other users from the network. Nick Nilan, director of public sector product development at Verizon, says public safety users on the Verizon network can sign up for access to the Core. Verizon will then put a feature on their account that identifies them as a public safety user. "Us- ers don't have to do anything to access the Core once they have that feature on their account," he says. Verizon is not yet releasing numbers of users for its public safety core, but the company will say it has a number of agency users and a large base of individual first responder users. While most of the users on the Verizon Private Responder Core are accessing the network on their cellphones, Nilan be- lieves the future of the network will involve other uses. "e real growth will be in the number of connections per vehicle through the MDT router," he says. ose connections will in- clude telematics, streaming video from body-worn cameras, and smart vests that tell dispatchers and commanders when an officer is under stress or has suffered a medical event or injury. "All of these sensors together are operating on our network today," Nilan says, adding that they will become more prevalent in coming years. In order to spur such innovation in law en- forcement technology applications, Verizon not only sends out "solution architects" to help cus- tomers get the most from the network, it also fa- cilitates networking among first responder cus- tomers. "We will bring together two customers, one that has a challenge and another that has solved that same challenge," he says. IN ACTION H untington Beach, CA, is literally "Surf City USA." e north- ern Orange County city of roughly 200,000 people doubles in population when the "U.S. Open of Surfing" comes to town each summer. And that puts a strain on local law enforcement. Robert Handy, chief of the Huntington Beach Police Depart- ment, says the crowds from three major events, the surfing championship, a large Fourth of July parade, and an annual air show and the need to communicate with more than a dozen agencies that provide services and security for the events were the reasons he started working with AT&T FirstNet. "We were having trouble with our cellular communications during these events," he says. "Two or three years ago we had complete failure of voice and data during peak times." Since last year, Huntington Beach PD has been adding First- Net service to all its new devices, and it plans to issue smart- phones to its 222 sworn officers. So far Handy is very pleased with the results. "We had a very specific problem that we need- ed to solve and solve quickly. FirstNet worked well for us," he says. FirstNet law enforcement advisor Markley sums up why agencies and officers should want access to priority first re- sponder networks. "On the worst day when the unplanned thing—earthquake, active shooter, bridge collapse—occurs, everyone will be on their phones and first responders will still have access to those networks and the ability to communicate," he says. First Responder Networks Some agencies are looking to LTE first responder networks to supplement radio communications with voice communication over cell phones. PHOTOS: FIRST RESPONDER NET WORK AUTHORIT Y

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