When disaster strikes, citizens reach for their phones. And when a disaster is large scale, the massive increase in cell phone use can jam the cellular networks needed for communication with police, fire departments and other first responders. FirstNet® offers a solution.
FirstNet is a nationwide wireless network that is designed to deliver priority, pre-emptive communications for first responders and those responsible for critical infrastructure, transportation and public safety any time a large-scale public emergency, such as a hurricane, wildfire or other event affects an entire city or region. FirstNet ensures critical voice, text and data communications go through when a spike in civilian cell phone use could jam cellular networks, preventing dispatchers and first responders from communicating quickly and effectively.
This critical network supports not only first responders, but all important enterprises and services that are needed in an emergency, from wastewater management to security services, public transportation and railways. Called "Extended Primary" services, organizations in this category can also purchase FirstNet Trusted™ devices like Digi TX54, Digi TX64 5G, Digi TX64 5G Rail, Digi IX20, Digi EX12 and Digi EX15 and make use of the FirstNet network for critical communications.
The need for an interoperable public safety network with dedicated spectrum was first recognized in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, when first responders found it difficult to communicate on the congested cellphone network.
Congress created the First Responder Network Authority and set aside 20 MHz of spectrum in the 700 MHz frequency band, known as Band 14, to ensure vital communications during a disaster. This low-band spectrum was chosen because it offers several advantages, including the ability to penetrate walls and other obstacles, helping to ensure excellent coverage.
FirstNet operates as a public-private collaboration between the First Responder Network Authority and AT&T. In the event of an emergency, FirstNet users have priority over non-FirstNet users and, if necessary, all commercial traffic will be dropped and the network will be dedicated exclusively to first responders, as well as to the “Extended Primary” group as bandwidth allows. During a crisis, a normal cellphone might stop working, but FirstNet-enabled devices will continue to work.
FirstNet was initially designed exclusively for the “primary” category of public safety entities such as police, fire, ambulance and EMTs. However, many other organizations and services — as well as critical infrastructure — are often needed during emergencies and in the aftermath of a catastrophic event. For that reason, FirstNet was extended to a second tier of “Extended Primary Users.”
To ensure that this diverse group of users has the interoperability they need, FirstNet supports a wide variety of approved FirstNet Trusted™ devices, including Android®, and Apple® iOS smartphones, feature phones, and data-only devices, such as tablets, laptops, aircards, netbooks and mobile hotspot devices.
Digi supports emergency responders, health practitioners, emergency dispatch services and the large list of extended primary users with enterprise class cellular extenders and mobile access cellular routers. Digi EX15, an enterprise class cellular extender designed for indoor applications, is ideal for dispatch centers and a wide range of extended primary use cases, from critical infrastructure to security services. Digi EX12 provides primary or backup connectivity for a range of indoor environments, from police, fire and medical services to security operations.
Digi transportation routers support municipal and commercial transport, including traffic management systems, city buses, paratransit, as well as light rail and heavy rail. TX54 is an industrial class cellular router suited for mobile communications, and is designed to withstand environmental challenges such as temperature extremes and vibration, supporting intelligent traffic management systems. Digi TX64 5G supports public transportation systems, and Digi TX64 5G supports railway systems.
In addition, built-in Digi TrustFence® security simplifies the process of securing connected devices with full encryption of data over FirstNet, and continuously adapts to new and evolving cyber threats. Digi Remote Manager®, a secure, web-based management application, also lets users monitor the performance and status of their deployed devices from a centralized location.
Digi has been serving public safety users as well as utilities, transit systems and other critical infrastructure entities for decades. We have the knowledge, teams and technology to improve your city’s or region’s disaster preparedness with FirstNet Trusted™ devices and solutions. Contact us to learn more about how these systems can help you get ready and stay ready — just in case disaster strikes.