Yesterday, Galain Solutions participated in a Federal Communications Commission (FCC) workshop on broadband in public safety and homeland security. The goal of the workshop was to enlist feedback from various industry sources with regards to the developing National Broadband Plan. A variety of interesting perspectives were offered we will highlight in upcoming blogs. Particularly, we found comments made by Charles Brennan, Deputy Secretary for Public Safety Radio from Pennsylvania to be enlightening. Here are some key points:
The need for situational broadband.
While most of his state is covered at the consumer level for broadband, what is missing is the ability to establish mobile and situational broadband capabilities for responding to critical events.
Grants weighted toward states, not local.
Mr. Brennan argued that local agencies can not realistically act in a consistent manner with a bigger picture vision. He believes grants should be given to states for funding of strategic initiatives. He also urged for more block grants as opposed to competitive grants.
It’s more than the network.
While much emphasis is being placed on developing infrastructure, Mr. Brennan suggested applications are equally as important. He further said many in public safety do not know exactly how they would utilize broadband, pointing to a need for industry education around broadband applications.
Data interoperability is key.
Mr. Brennan stated while there is much discussion related to interoperability in communications (radios specifically), data interoperability is also key. It is imperative disparate databases can be accessed and shared across multiple applications and regions.
Data interoperability and an application focus are “sermons” we’ve been preaching for a while. We hope the NTIA, in its decisions related to grant funding for the BTOP, will give these issues appropriate weight and merit relative to infrastructure enhancements.