The National Public Safety Telecommunications Council (NPSTC) is a Federation of entities focused on communications for the delivery of Public Safety Services. Currently, NPSTC is embarking on an exciting project to assess spectrum, operations, technology, and digital transformation public safety requirements as we move through the next ten years of changes in public safety communications. NPSTC has always been a transparent organization open to everyone who wants to get involved with improving public safety communications. Although this report is primarily intended for a Public Safety audience, NPSTC strongly urges policy makers, academia, commercial interests, and other advocates to support the needs identified in this report. We are hoping that we will be joined in this effort by a diverse group of participants, including you!
In 2012, NPSTC chartered the Assessment of Future Spectrum and Technology (AFST) Working Group to identify public safety communications requirements for the 10‐year period, from 2012 to 2022, and assess the impact on technology and radio spectrum. The Public Safety Communications Assessment, 2012‐2022, can be viewed here. The 2012 report had Technology, Operations, & Spectrum Roadmaps which provided an overview of public safety communications and emergency operations as they existed and as they were envisioned to be in the future.
Since 2012, Public Safety’s increased dependence on data through a variety of networks has revealed the need to create an updated report. The Assessment of Future Spectrum and Technology (AFST) 2022-2032 is being formed in a similar fashion to not only assess the Operation, Spectrum, and Technology needs for the next ten years, but add the capability of Digital Transformation. Digital Transformation leverages the data available from sensors, cameras, and other collection devices (often referred to as Internet of Things –IoT) and utilizes such data in a safe and secure manner. This data could be shared across the whole of government and with associated Smart City Data in order to effectively and efficiently deliver enhanced situational awareness, enhanced actionable intelligence to First Responders and the vital services Public Safety is required to provide to the community.
Since the publishing of the AFST report, the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) under the Department of Commerce, the Canadian PSBN and other stakeholders have been provided spectrum and funding to direct and supervise their respective Nationwide Public Safety Broadband Networks (NPSBN) to provide an interoperable system for all public safety disciplines at all levels of government. The 2032 report will also help to drive a United States/Canada (CANUS) strategic posture for technology interoperability and innovation and will include harmonization of its vision and elements with Canada’s operational and technology needs. This holistic continent-wide technology posture will help to better ensure we can deliver seamless mutual aid by First Responder and critical infrastructure organizations across borders in times of natural disasters, and in support of lifesaving emergency operations by US and Canadian public protection and disaster relief (PPDR) organizations.
Public Safety entities exist to deliver essential services. They communicate over multiple networks: Land Mobile Radio (LMR) (conventional and trunked), dedicated public safety broadband networks such as FirstNet, Canada’s PSBN, other PSBN’s, and sometimes commercial broadband networks. Some Public Safety entities utilize satellite services for voice and data during disasters, in austere environments, or as a fallback. Communications must be developed and utilized to support the effectiveness and efficiency of those services. For that reason, Operations will be the driver of the essential communications requirements to deliver the respective services of each entity. Spectrum, Technology and Digital Transformation provide the vision of future capabilities in support of an evolving emergency response.
NPSTC has also secured participation and support from our Associate Member, Canada’s Public Safety Broadband Network Innovation Alliance (PIA) as their telecommunications needs are essentially similar. The PIA has joined NPSTC in the creation of this report to provide a cross-border perspective and has provided developmental support functions.
The work has started, and we want you to participate! This is your opportunity to contribute to the work of public safety communications! Currently, the committees are working on reviewing previous AFST 2012-2022 recommendations and formulating questions for a survey that will be the main driver for US and Canadian information gathering. These survey questions are extremely important as they ensure that the right questions are asked to solicit relevant information and requirements from multiple Public Safety stakeholders. Their responses will guide the committees to make recommendations on the AFST the next 10 years.