Using technology to keep City of Las Vegas community safe

by Michael Lee Sherwood - Chief Innovation Officer for City of Las Vegas

December 10, 2020

Everybody knows Las Vegas is the entertainment capital. Lots of exciting things happen in Las Vegas. But not only does it happen in the entertainment world, it’s also in the innovation world.

While you see the lights and the shows and the action – behind the scenes is a vast technology network that helps drive the city. And having FirstNet as our partner really helps make some of those things come true for our first responders and public safety.

When I started as chief innovation officer here in Las Vegas, one of the first things we began thinking about was how do we bolster communications? How do we provide cutting-edge services to our first responders and to general city crews that are working in the field doing good work every single day?

Choosing FirstNet

We chose FirstNet as our first responder communications platform so that we could really interact and so that our first responders had the tools and services they need from a communications standpoint and from a data standpoint.

Data is really the future. So having the data when you need it and access to that data is extremely important.

FirstNet has really responded to our needs, providing great sales support and services, helping make the implementation very easy for our side. We're rolling out thousands of phones. And the FirstNet support team has been there the whole way, helping us move through that migration.

Built for public safety

People know FirstNet is public safety’s network – for the hardworking men and women out there day-to-day. But we use it as both a communications platform and an IoT (Internet of Things) platform to provide first responders with critical data.

What we mean by that is we have video cameras and other IoT systems that rely on the FirstNet network to provide first responders with near real-time data. We're taking the very best in communications technology and layering that into our IoT strategy. This makes us a smart city for the future.

And we're continuing to grow our use of the platform. Now we're looking at sensors that include air quality and lighting systems. We’re looking at all things that revolve around community safety and the public safety agencies tasked with providing safety.

City of the future

Las Vegas is a great city with a great culture. And we're proud of the relationships we have with some of these technology companies – including FirstNet – that are helping us be pioneers in technology.

This really is a place of innovation. And having FirstNet be part of our community makes this a better and stronger place for the future. But we also need to be the very best in delivering critical services. That includes sewer control systems, all types of different applications that support the community.

So we are working on bringing other critical services into that ecosystem.  We're rolling out critical lighting systems that have control mechanisms based on the FirstNet network.

Making safety a priority

By being proactive, our lighting system now tells us when it has problems. Light provides safety. Safety provides our community what they require and what they want. So lighting is a very critical part of our entire infrastructure platform. The more you can bring technology into play, the safer community you're going to have.

We also live in a desert here, so water is a very precious resource. Having the right toolset to manage that is extremely important. FirstNet provides that communications connectivity from the field to our offices and allows us to control and communicate, understand and grab data for how we manage our water resources.

The city of Las Vegas is a very diverse community. You have the entertainment corridor; the downtown core, with municipal facilities, shopping and infrastructure; and the beautiful areas like Red Rock Canyon and residential communities beyond.

So having a communications platform that reaches all these demographics is extremely important, because our first responders are generally in a variety of different locations and operate under different conditions throughout the city.

Serving the community

We have a population of roughly 650,000, but upwards of 40 million people a year coming into your city. So having reliable communication services is extremely important, especially as our needs change. Not just by the month or the year. We're talking daily.

As large conventions come in, our communications networks have to be able to support the additional needs, the strain and the stress of having all these different factions coming into our community at one time. And FirstNet delivers that communications technology to our first responders. And it gives them a solid communications platform.

It's all about capability. It's about scale, and it's about situational awareness and having the right tools at the right time. And that's what the FirstNet partnership with Las Vegas provides our city.

The future is exciting in Las Vegas. And next-generation networks like FirstNet are bringing the tools and adding the flexibility and mobility our first responders need.

Michael Sherwood is the Chief Innovation Officer for the City of Las Vegas. He was previously director of information technology for the city. Before moving to Las Vegas nearly five years ago, he worked as deputy director of public safety and city technology for the City of Irvine, California, and as chief information officer for the City of Oceanside.