25. FirstNet

I think that we have briefly mentioned FirstNet in the past, but there have been a few recent developments that bear watching.   
 
The First Responder Network Authority, or FirstNet, was established by Congress in 2012 to better integrate first responder activities in times of emergency.  Using $7 billion and part of the 700 MHz spectrum, FirstNet contractor AT&T is building a nationwide network of public safety communications facilities.  Each state can participate or opt out, and seven states, including neighboring states Kentucky and West Virginia, plus the U.S. Virgin Islands have already opted in.  Ohio and Indiana have not as of today.  States have a mid-December deadline to decide. 
FirstNet is expected to offer more system integration that Ohio MARCS, our current statewide public safety system.  MARCS works well for voice traffic, and computer communications are possible as well.  But as a broadband service FirstNet plans to offer video capability, GIS and quite a bit more. 
 
For the latest FirstNet updates, visit their website at www.firstnet.gov