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Solutions: Public Safety - Communications

Improve Public Safety Communications

GOAL: Leverage broadband technologies to enhance emergency communications to and from the public.

DESCRIPTION: Broadband offers a unique opportunity to achieve a comprehensive vision for enhancing the safety and security of your community’s residents. Broadband can help public safety personnel prevent emergencies and respond swiftly when they occur. Broadband can also provide your community with new ways of calling for help and receiving emergency information.

For example, first responders from different jurisdictions and agencies often cannot communicate during emergencies due to disparate communication systems and the lack of integration between these systems. However, wireless broadband supports the interoperability of communications systems that would allow first responders anywhere in the nation to communicate with each other and send and receive critical voice and data to save lives, reduce injuries, and prevent acts of crime and terror.

Furthermore, with broadband, 911 call centers (also known as public safety answering points or PSAPs) could receive texts, pictures, and videos from the public and relay them to first responders. Similarly, the government could use broadband networks to disseminate vital information to the public during emergencies in multiple formats and languages.


To overcome the challenges posed by disparate communication systems and dated technology, your community’s public safety agencies should collaborate with state and federal agencies in order to improve communication across organizational and jurisdictional boundaries. This is one of the priorities of the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet). Created by the Middle Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012, FirstNet was established as an independent authority within the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) in order to establish a single nationwide, interoperable public safety broadband network.

To find out more information on FirstNet and the Nationwide Public Safety Network, visit

To find out more information regarding your state’s efforts and point of contact for FirstNet planning, check with your Governor’s office and/or statewide interoperability coordinator.

Assistance to Firefighters Grants (AFG): The primary goal of the AFG Program is to meet the firefighting and emergency response needs of fire departments and non-affiliated emergency medical service organizations. AFG funds have helped firefighters and other first responders to obtain critically needed equipment, protective gear, emergency vehicles, training, and other resources needed to protect the public and emergency personnel from fire and related hazards.

Community Connect Grant Program: The Community Connect Grant Program provides financial assistance to furnish broadband service in unserved, often isolated, rural communities. The grants are used to establish broadband service for critical facilities such as fire or police stations, while also providing service to residents and businesses.


State, county, and local public safety agencies; State, county, and local interoperability coordinators; Broadband providers and related entities



Public Safety Communications