The independent board set up to lead the build-out of a nationwide public safety broadband network has begun the challenging work of designing a blueprint for this endeavor. As reported by Homeland Security Today, the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) is already encountering the multitude of coordination challenges facing this project, coming off its inaugural board meeting on September 25.
As quoted in the HS Today piece, Sam Ginn, Chairman of the FirstNet board, describes how the upfront planning, collaboration, and requirements gathering actually pose greater challenges than the technological build-out of the network:
“You don’t have to study this issue very deeply before you recognize that we need to cover every square meter of this nation and do it effectively … And so we have these enormous coverage requirements, and we also have very detailed requirements from public safety in order for them to do their job. We got our hands full. I’m not worried about the technical aspects of this project. My concern is basically the overlay that would prevent us from executing contracts and getting this thing moving.”
The building of the broadband network, first called for in the 9/11 Commission report in 2004, is funded by a federal law passed earlier in 2012, which granted communications spectrum for the network and provided funding for the technology acquisitions as well as integration planning and needs assessments that precede the creation of the network.