FirstNet Turns 1, celebrates with heightened security, control and capabilities

Posted on March 28, 2019

by Stacy Schwartz, Vice President, AT&T – Public Safety & FirstNet Program at AT&T

A year ago, Public Safety’s communications platform came to life with the launch of the FirstNet network core. It was a milestone moment for Public Safety – marking a significant communications advancement for first responders like you.

Twelve months in the making

We built the FirstNet evolved packet core from the ground up to meet your specific needs. The physically separate infrastructure on which it was architected is completely dedicated to FirstNet subscribers. Why?

Because that’s what you expressly asked for. This was also critical to creating the highly secure communications environment you demand.

To further enhance security, we applied our leadership in software-defined networking to the design of the FirstNet core. By using next-generation, virtualized security functions, we can more rapidly and flexibly respond to your security needs.

And while attempts have been made by others in the industry to imitate the FirstNet core’s dedicated, physically separate and highly secure environment, it continues to stand unmatched.

The FirstNet network core also continues to serve as a springboard for the new capabilities, next-generation functionality and innovative tools that will drive Public Safety’s capabilities forward.

Twelve months in

Since its launch, more than 90 devices have been tested and approved to operate on the FirstNet network core, giving Public Safety access to the critical capabilities it enables. Of these, nearly 50 are FirstNet Ready®, which means they also support access to Band 14.

And we continue to bring more devices to the FirstNet ecosystem. We just launched the ruggedized Kyocera DuraForce PRO 2, and we’ll soon be adding Panasonic’s TOUGHBOOK 33 and TOUGHBOOK 54.

We also upped your situational awareness and in-field capabilities. More than 50 iOS and Android apps now reside in the FirstNet App Catalog, representing 30+ unique apps relevant to the public safety mission. Recent additions include AccessMyLANCallyo 10-21 VideoCrisisGoLookout® and pulsara. We’ve also added two solutions from the Department of Homeland Security: eNIFOG and eAUXFOG.

First responders can learn more about each app in the Catalog via a monthly webinar series we just launched. You can register here for the April 18 webinar on situational awareness.

The next 12 months

To keep innovation for Public Safety going strong, we’re rolling out new tools that will continue to help FirstNet subscribers take advantage of the specialized FirstNet experience.

  • FirstNet Single Sign-On – First responders working a crime scene, fire or incident shouldn’t need to spend precious seconds repeatedly entering complex passwords to get and maintain application access. Single Sign-On solves for that. This new solution will give FirstNet subscribers easy access to participating applications and other mobile destinations while maintaining a highly secure environment without the need to constantly re-authenticate. It provides both user convenience and quick access in critical scenarios for first responders.
  • Encrypted Assets – We’re further fortifying the FirstNet-dedicated Satellite Cell on Light Trucks (SatCOLTs). As FirstNet subscribers connect to these assets, their communications are encrypted across satellite links. This creates an even more secure network environment for Public Safety. The FirstNet SatCOLTs are part of the nationwide fleet of 72 dedicated deployable network assets available 24/7 at the request of FirstNet subscribers and at no additional charge.
  • FirstNet Assist – Available in the coming months, this app will take FirstNet customer care mobile. FirstNet Assist will also allow first responders that have been assigned a lower level of priority or FirstNet users providing essential services to support Public Safety – like utilities or transportation – to request priority uplift from the field. Once approved by the command post manager, this will enable these users to access higher priority levels. The ability to request priority uplift will be available upon entering a 50-mile radius of an emergency, making it even easier for command post managers to quickly uplift those critical to a response.
  • Increased Network Visibility – We’re giving FirstNet subscribers a level of network visibility unlike anything they’ve ever experienced. New enhancements to the Local Control Portal’s Network Status Map will help public safety administrators better understand what’s going on with the network at any given time. Plus, in alignment with data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), agency administrators can now overlay the status of ongoing flood and fire borders in relation to their jurisdiction for added situational awareness.

We’re also rolling out 2 new tools for developers to help foster continued innovation for Public Safety across a broad ecosystem of innovators and creators:

  • FirstNet Single Sign-On Software Development Kit (SDK) – Developers creating public safety solutions can integrate FirstNet Single Sign-On directly into their apps. The new SDK can be found on the FirstNet Developer Portal.
  • FirstNet App Priority™ Application Programming Interface (API) – We’re extending First Priority™ service to automatically apply to critical public safety apps sourced from the FirstNet App Catalog. Developers must request permission to use the App Priority™ API to build in the highest level of priority access to the use of their app – which will also need to be submitted for review and approval. App Priority™ is especially beneficial during mutual-aid situations where multiple first responders and support organizations are involved and relying on intelligence from key apps as part of their complex response. This can also be found on the FirstNet Developer Portal.

It’s been a transformational year for public safety communications. And we’ll continue to deliver the products, services and technologies that are making a difference for first responders across the country.