Preparing Your Agency’s Mobile Technology for FirstNet

As public safety agencies continue to use and evaluate new mobile technology solutions, it is critical that IT decision makers carefully consider their agency’s future needs when deciding how to best allocate limited technology budgets.

Perhaps the largest initiative impacting agencies in the next several years will be the roll-out of the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet). FirstNet has been tasked with building, operating and maintaining the first high-speed, nationwide wireless broadband network dedicated solely to public safety use. In order to create a single, interoperable platform for daily and real-time emergency communication, all agencies across the country will require a radio access network that is connected to the FirstNet Network.

Last month, FirstNet, announced it was awarding grants to eight public safety entities for relocating their existing radios and systems to Band 14, the spectrum licensed to FirstNet. To enable agencies to proactively prepare for the future and take advantage of all Band14 offers, manufacturers will have to adapt to meet the new requirements while still providing the hardware reliability officers and responders depend on in the field.

Responders agree the move to a wireless broadband is necessary, particularly during national disasters. When a major event happens, everyone in the disaster location and around the country calling and texting to make sure loved ones are safe, but that places a tremendous burden on networks. Now that most people own a mobile phone, which creates an enormous amount of traffic that impacts first responders by limiting or preventing their ability to place calls for help or receive life-saving data.

As agencies move to the new private wireless broadband, they will be able to stay connected at all times, especially in times of disaster. However in order for a solution like FirstNet to be successful, the hardware an agency chooses will play an equally important role in ensuring success.

In addition to the hazards that come with day-to-day work in the field or major disasters, first responders encounter extreme environments. Whether they are called to the scene of a fire, or the scene of a car crash in the middle of a rainstorm, the mobile devices they use to send and access critical data need to stand up to environmental conditions as well as the bumps and drops they can encounter. Having a network like FirstNet is only successful if your agency operates with a reliable, rugged device, purpose-built for these unexpected extremes.

Rugged devices that perform reliably and those with low failure rates will ultimately save your agency money by extending the life of the product and decreasing the need for costly IT support and repairs over the life of the device. As the nation prepares to move towards full integration of FirstNet, invest in mobile hardware that is purpose-built with MIL-SPEC durability and reliability to ensure your technology works when it matters most.

For more information on Panasonic’s rugged computers and tablet, visit