FirstNet delivers consultation package to states

The First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet), an independent entity within the U.S. Department of Commerce, announced on Wednesday that it delivered an initial readiness consultation package to all 56 states and territories.

The package includes guidance and a readiness checklist meant to increase FirstNet's understanding of the states' unique needs when it comes to developing state plans. FirstNet seeks to provide emergency responders with a high-speed, nationwide network dedicated to public safety.

"The release of the initial consultation package is an important next step in our coordination and planning work with the states, as well as implementing FirstNet's program roadmap," TJ Kennedy, the deputy general manager of FirstNet, said. "Each state plan will be developed through an iterative process, and this package will ensure a strong foundation as we begin consultations with each state and territory so we can hit the ground running."

The Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012 requires that FirstNet consult with local, state and regional jurisdictions when developing requests for proposals and carrying out its responsibilities. Kennedy said the key with the consultation package is to deliver a plan that is inclusive of a state's specific needs and desires that the state's governor is eager to sign.

David Buchanan, the director of state consultation for FirstNet, explained that the next formal steps of consultation will start once the states have completed their checklists and scheduled meetings with FirstNet.

"We are enthusiastic and prepared to begin in-person consultations with each state and territory," Buchanan said. "Through a highly collaborative process, we will engage each state and territory to understand and support the needs of their public safety communities, develop state plans, and deploy an operational broadband network."

FirstNet is meant to improve communication among national, local, state, regional and tribal emergency services personnel.