Delaware Public Media

First State opts into federal first responder broadband network

Dec 28, 2017

Delaware is joining a federal initiative to connect first responders nationwide to a broadband data sharing network called FirstNet.

The First Responder Network Authority, or FirstNet, is teaming with AT&T to implement an encrypted network exclusively for first responders, soon to be used in most, if not all, U.S. states and territories.

Gov. John Carney agreed to opt Delaware in to the plan last week.

Lori Stone is FirstNet’s regional lead for the Mid-Atlantic. She says the network is used to relay mission-critical data.

“Imagine if you had been just robbed by someone, you took a picture of that and you want to show that to the police officer and have that police officer share that information with his colleagues. This is the network that you can do that on,” said Stone. “You’re able to securely communicate first responders with each other.”

The signature from Gov. Carney allows AT&T to set up additional cell towers in the state for FirstNet.

Warren Jones is the Executive Manager of the Delaware Volunteer Firefighters Associations. He says there are several ways this new communication network could benefit first responders.

“We would have access to blueprints for buildings that are on fire. Could be generated and sent to the command vehicle either on their computer or tablet where they could look this up. The paramedics maybe eventually could have access to patient history.”

It is not mandatory for individual first responder agencies in Delaware to use FirstNet. And there is a monthly fee attached to the service.