At IWCE 2020, Jeff Johnson, Western Fire Chief Association CEO and member of Sonim’s Board of Directors, kicked off the virtual event with his keynote where he shared his firsthand knowledge of how FirstNet and public safety broadband continues to change the wireless ecosystem.
Johnson explained that although the wireless ecosystem has made significant changes over the years, there is more to do when it comes to innovative mobile technology for the public safety sector, specifically, when it comes to applications.
“Applications are key for us as individuals, and they are the key for public safety,” said Johnson. “A healthy app ecosystem is essential for public safety.”
Today, the FirstNet App Catalog identifies a range of tested and reliable public safety focused apps. According to the organization, while first responders can use apps from any commercial store, the FirstNet App Catalog only offers apps that have undergone a rigorous vetting and approval process. FirstNet states that the catalog is growing quickly, with more than 100 apps currently included.
In addition to applications, Johnson outlined the importance of open standards when it comes to innovation for FirstNet. “The reason for open standards was to inspire an ecosystem of FirstNet ready devices,” said Johnson. “Open standards leads to innovation, it leads to stimulating the ecosystem, and more tools and resources available for public safety.”
According to Johnson new public safety technology should aim to lift the intellectual load on decision makers. By creating applications and tools that have multi-disciplinary capability, the wireless industry is enabling first responders to have better and more informed responses in turn improving the safety of communities.
Closing out his keynote speech, Johnson addressed the industry wide discussion of how LTE will change the current LMR landscape. In his opinion, the change from LMR to LTE will happen when it becomes fail proof to use one device for all communication; Not only communication alerting public safety organizations of an emergency, but also the quick and reliable communication needed on the way to and during the emergency.
“Public safety is not slow to adopt, they’re slow to give up something that works,” said Johnson. “What we’re seeing with LTE is that it’s proving itself to work. And if you can weave together public safety’s need for reliability and coverage and in building penetration and reliability, then what technology it is begins to be mute.”
According to Johnson it’s time to break free of anchors keeping the public safety industry in the past and time to start demanding more public safety grade reliability when it comes to technology. Johnson explained that this responsibility not only falls on the vendors, but those in public safety leadership.
“If you’re a first responder, I challenge you to get involved in the next generation of tech warriors by offering insights and leadership. “If you are a vendor, listen to public safety,” says Johnson. “Solve their problems and they will be brand loyal far longer than we likely should be, but you must be exceptional.”