Emergencies aren’t the only times when public safety needs capacity to communicate and send data. Planned events take place across the country that draw more people to a single location than usual – such as concerts, festivals, and sporting venues. In these situations, networks can become congested, making it difficult for users to get a signal.
During FirstNet’s outreach and consultation efforts, we received feedback from first responders about the need for robust capacity to support their communication and data needs during large events. They look forward to having access to a dedicated public safety broadband network that will provide them the bandwidth they need to coordinate public safety resources and respond to any incidents that take place during planned events.
Maryland: The state hosts a number of large planned events every year, including the Preakness Stakes horse race that brings hundreds of thousands of people into Baltimore every May. During the state’s Initial Consultation Meeting with FirstNet, Maryland officials emphasized the benefits of having a secure and reliable network that could improve safety and security at these events, during which commercial cellular networks often become congested and unreliable for public safety users.
Nevada: Nevada representatives provided the FirstNet team with valuable “real world” examples of public safety responses to large planned events and emergencies in the state during the Initial Consultation meeting. Discussions focused on public safety communications during the Reno Air Race, the Burning Man Festival, and New Years Eve celebrations. Public safety officials discussed how having access to a dedicated and reliable broadband network could have benefitted first responders in each of these events.
Texas: The Harris County “Early Builder” network project has been used to support public safety operations during large events in the state. This includes the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, which brought more than 2.5 million people to the city earlier this year. In addition, the Harris County network is providing first responders with reliable, mobile coverage solutions during large events at Texas A&M University, as demonstrated in the following video developed by the Texas Public Safety Broadband Program.
Kentucky: At the state’s consultation meeting, Chris Seidt, IT Operations Manager for the Louisville Metro Police, discussed public safety communications for the Kentucky Derby and Thunder over Louisville events, which draw anywhere from 20,000 to 850,000 people over a two week span. He talked about how important communicating is for ensuring public safety coordination during the two events, which involve multiple state, local, and federal law enforcement agencies, as well as the National Guard, FBI, and the Department of Homeland Security.
Illinois: Public safety officials from Chicago discussed with FirstNet how they often encounter capacity issues with current commercial providers during large-scale events. They said the city uses a variety of methods to communicate during events, including mobile data terminals, smart phones, cameras, land mobile radios (LMR), and global positioning system (GPS) devices. The city often experiences cellular degradations as crowds grow at these large-scale events, and private networks cannot keep up with the demand. They explained how FirstNet would offer a number of key benefits, such as dedicated coverage for pre-planned events and incidents (priority/pre-emption), deployable resources, and a service provider that understands public safety and its unique challenges, just to name a few.