Recent natural disasters, Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma, have highlighted rising concerns surrounding reliable public safety communications and aging 911 technologies. While communication networks have improved, the pace of progress for resilient connectivity throughout the nation has not kept up and is still a concern.
A recent article published by CNN highlighted these concerns, “Like most 911 systems in the U.S., Houston’s is based on outdated telephone network technology.” Although it is said to be more advanced than many since the centers can receive SMS text messages, “it needs an overhaul to keep up with the smartphone age.”
At times like Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma, it’s apparent that public safety communications need to be able to stand up against the elements. But, no matter the situation, from hurricanes to blackouts to keeping large-scale venues and educational institutions safe, public safety agencies across the country must look to update systems dedicated to public safety: FirstNet and NG9-1-1.
For example, Rockport, Texas, near where Hurricane Harvey made landfall, was the hardest hit, according to the Federal Communications Commission. Approximately 95% of cell sites there weren’t working, leaving customers in some counties with limited or no cellphone service. In Florida following Hurricane Irma it is estimated that 64% of the population were without power, approximately 6.7 million people. According to AT&T who is deploying the First Responder Network (FirstNet) 25% of theirs sites were down due to a loss of power. Many AT&T sites do not have permanent generators and reply on battery backup with the capability to attach a mobile generator, however, in a natural disaster situation is the deployment of hundreds of generators practical?
AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson says FirstNet hardening will include ‘bunkering’ and redundant perpetual backup power. Stephenson recently made the statement about AT&T’s commitment to reliability on the FirstNet system during a session at the Goldman Sachs Communacopia Brokers Conference on September 12, 2017. Although Stephenson didn’t go into specifics, it’s likely this would include additional battery backup and natural gas fueled generators to ensure sites are kept online.
Proven Results for Public Safety Communication Needs
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