This post is by Bob Fennelly, head of government and public safety at Nokia Siemens Networks
For many Americans, the big game last Sunday was a time to get together with family and friends to enjoy watching football and eating good food. For public safety officials in New Orleans, however, it was an opportunity to test a state-of-the-art LTE communications system. The crowded stadium was the perfect environment to simulate packed streets following a disaster, in which police officers, firefighters and others attempt to restore order and ensure the safety of citizens. In a situation where seconds can mean lives lost, the ability to deliver not only voice communications but also live video feeds to command centers makes emergency teams far more effective.
Current emergency communications systems typically lack the ability to deliver real-time images and video to support voice capabilities and help responders make better decisions. Instead, private citizens with smartphones operating on large carrier networks often have better information than law enforcement and medical personnel. To close this gap and deliver a full-featured broadband experience to first responders, the U.S. government created FirstNet, which is funded with $7 Billion and charged with the development of a nationwide wireless broadband network to support public safety on their dedicated spectrum.
Making the New Orleans test possible were handheld devices issued by Nokia Siemens Networks partner Harris Corporation. These devices operate in conjunction with the local Evolved Packet Core from Cisco, with communications supported by eNodeB or LTE base stations, based on the Flexi Multiradio Base Stations (BTS) from Nokia Siemens Networks. Our base stations deliver advanced interoperability between devices and the network, to provide a seamless, full-featured communications experience. The result is a powerful, high-performance network that effectively connects emergency responders on the scene with key decision-makers coordinating rescue and relief efforts, improving their ability to protect the people.
This joint pilot demonstrates that we already have the technology to make this enhanced public safety LTE network a reality. And by supporting interoperability between a wide variety of devices and applications, Nokia Siemens Networks is making it simpler to deploy the network and maintain performance. This pilot program will extend over a six-month period whereby Nokia Siemens Networks and its partners will effectively show that local officials and emergency responders from the City of New Orleans can improve their communications on the ground without being restricted to certain vendors. Nokia Siemens Networks has also participated with partners in successful pilots over the past year in Las Vegas, Miami and the Republican National Convention.
As FirstNet works to build and deploy a nationwide public safety network, Nokia Siemens Networks is proud to support its goal of interoperability through established, commercial-grade solutions such as our BTS. We’re looking forward to more successful collaborations, helping ensure that our public safety officials have the most advanced communications system to assist them in keeping us safe.