FirstNet is here. Now what?

With AT&T releasing it new FirstNet logo and signing up its first two customers many agencies are wondering what this means for them.

Over the next few weeks, we will be providing guidance on how to evaluate the use of FirstNet versus the services in use today by most public safety agencies.  Our experts, who have managed, consulted for and run large scale public safety agencies will provide you with the information that you need to make an informed decision and make the best use of your agency’s limited budget.



AT&T disclosed its new logo for its FirstNet service.

AT&T has now released its branding around its FirstNet services.  Looking to stress that FirstNet is a public safety only communications platform to help public safety save lives AT&T has released a dedicated brand for the platform.

 AT&T unveiled the new visual identity for FirstNet products and services. Designed with only public safety in mind, this brand is rooted in 3 essential elements:
  • Symbol – 3 horizontal lines represent the distinct but interconnected disciplines of public safety. They’re united in communications, symbolized by a notch in the lower right corner. This forms a speech bubble that signifies seamless communication and harmonious interoperation for first responders nationwide.
  • Wordmark – FIRSTNET. We’ve bolded “first” to show that this network is, first and foremost, a solution for firstresponders. The technology will never be more important than the first responders it benefits. This platform belongs to them. They fought for it, and they will continue to guide its development. Plus, they’ll always be first in line for service.
  • Attribution – “Built with AT&T.” We chose each word carefully to reflect the brand’s commitment to public safety.
    • Built: This is a new effort, new solution and new network that is purpose-built for first responders. It’s the only communications platform dedicated to public safety. And there’s nothing else like it in the market.
    • With: Collaboration with first responders will always be our foundation.
    • AT&T: This is a solution built with the expertise of the nation’s largest and most reliable network provider.* So, first responders can rely on it for their technology and communications needs.

AT&T – FirstNet  senior vice president Chris Sambar stated “We’ll begin rolling out this new brand today. Whenever first responders see it, they can be  confident that they are getting something just for them. It’s built in collaboration with them, backed by the expertise of AT&T and approved with the advocacy of the First Responder Network Authority.”

The story of FirstNet is far from over.  As the platform is built out it will be interesting to see how it unfolds and whether FirstNet can truly provide a cost effective and superior solution to other carriers offerings.  Although all states and territories have opted in to the FirstNet buildout, public safety agencies nationwide have no requirement to use the fee-based FirstNet services.

NG 9-1-1 Makes Progress in 2017

Each year, the National 911 Program and the National Association of State 911 Administrators (NASNA) collaborate to collect the most comprehensive data on:

  • funding and revenue,
  • text-to-911,
  • progress toward implementing NG911 and
  • more.

Data is submitted voluntarily and is available through the Program’s National 911 Profile Database  and they

  • the Program and NASNA work together to analyze the results,
  • identify trends and
  • share the findings in the annual National 911 Progress Report.

The report calls out three major findings in its executive summary.

  1. The majority of 9-1-1 calls are increasingly received from cellphones.
  2. In addition, progress is being made toward implementing NG 9-1-1.
  3. 9-1-1 authorities are capable of using NG 9-1-1 infrastructure to process and interpret location and caller information for all service types in 21 percent of reporting states.

The report provides the segmented information state 911 leaders, legislators and policy makers need to make informed decisions about 911 services in their jurisdictions. The results of the data collection can have the ability to help a state advocate for policy changes, increased funding and more.

Here is the latest report:

National 911 Program Profile Database Progress Report 2017

Using big data for security only provides insight, not protection

Cybersecurity experts are excited about big data because it is the “crime scene investigator” of data science. If your organization is hacked and customer information compromised, your use of big data to collect massive amounts of information on your systems, users and customers makes it possible for data analysts to provide insight into what went wrong.

But while big data can help solve the crime after it occurred, it doesn’t help prevent it in the first place. You’re still left cleaning up the mess left behind by the breach: angry customers, possible compliance issues with data privacy standards like HIPAA and PCI DSS, maybe even government fines and class-action lawsuits.

This is where big data fails to meet its big promise: when it is employed after a data breach happens. As the old saying goes, “Hindsight is the best sight.” Big data, when utilized after a cyberattack, certainly gives you that. However, what it doesn’t give you is the ability to realize that a breach is happening, or is about to happen, and stop it before massive damage is done. Because of this, big data, when used in a vacuum, will not secure your systems, your business, or any of your sensitive information.

Read more in: Using big data for security only provides insight, not protection Authority

Ransomware Infects D.C. Police Closed Circuit Camera Storage Devices

A ransomware attack caused storage devices for surveillance cameras used by police in Washington D.C. to be offline for three days in mid-January. The attack affected 70 percent of the devices that the police use to monitor public spaces. The ransom demand was not paid; instead, the city took the devices offline, removed all the software, and reset them.
Read more in: Police camera system in D.C. hit with ransomware Ransomware killed 70% of Washington DC CCTV ahead of inauguration Hackers hit D.C. closed-circuit camera network, city officials disclose

Ransomware Costs Texas PD Eight Years of Evidence

The computer system at a police department in Texas became infected with Ransomware. The Cockrell Hill Police Department’s backup system had backed up its files only after they had been encrypted with the malware. The department decided not to pay the ransom after learning from the FBI that there was no guarantee their encrypted data would be returned. The lost files included video evidence in legal cases. The department has started notifying defense attorneys that the video evidence in those cases no longer exists.

Read more in: Texas cops lose evidence going back eight years in ransomware attack

FCC Buildout Requirements

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has established buildout requirements—which require a licensee to build the necessary infrastructure and put the assigned spectrum to use within a set amount of time—for most wireless services, including cellular and personal communication services. FCC tailors the buildout requirements it sets for a wireless service based on the physical characteristics of the relevant spectrum and comments of stakeholders, among other factors. Therefore, buildout requirements vary across wireless services. For example, a buildout requirement can set the percentage of a license’s population or geographic area that must be covered by service or can describe the required level of service in narrative terms rather than numeric benchmarks. Buildout requirements also vary by how much time a licensee has to meet a requirement and whether it has to meet one requirement or multiple requirements in stages.

FCC’s enforcement process for wireless-service licenses with buildout requirements primarily relies on information provided by licensees.  The FCC requires licensees to self-certify that they have met buildout requirements. If a licensee does not do so, FCC automatically terminates the license.  As part of enforcement, the FCC also grants or dismisses licensees’ requests to extend the deadline for meeting a requirement. FCC may grant an extension if the licensee shows that it cannot meet a deadline due to causes beyond its control, like a lack of available equipment.  FCC officials said that the Commission seeks to be aggressive but pragmatic when enforcing buildout requirements, including being flexible on deadlines when needed.

Have more questions about FCC buildout requirements?  Post them below or email us.

FirstNet Outlines Operational Readiness, First 100-Days for Nationwide Public Safety Broadband Network

FirstNet Board and executive team

December 14, 2016 (Sacramento): The First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) today outlined its readiness for a public-private partnership to deploy the Nationwide Public Safety Broadband Network (Network), including a plan to ensure progress on key Network components in the first 100 days of the partnership.

Meeting today in Sacramento, California, the FirstNet Board and executive team discussed major steps in the evolution of FirstNet as an operational entity.  The Board also addressed how FirstNet will meet the objectives for initial deployment of the Network. Specifically, FirstNet leadership focused on the critical work to be completed during the first 100 days on core design and technology roadmaps, the state plans portal, and other network components.

We are now in implementation mode and stand ready to move forward on this Network for public safety,” said FirstNet Chair Sue Swenson. “The first 100 days will be critical to setting the foundation for success; we are prepared from both an operational and planning standpoint to deliver public safety the network they deserve.

During today’s quarterly Board meeting, FirstNet officials highlighted the organization’s operational readiness.  This includes, among other actions, the following capabilities and functions:

  • A network operations team to lead coordination on network design and other components;
  • A customer service team to prepare for delivering service, driving adoption and providing a public safety grade customer experience;
  • A forward-looking budget to ensure the most effective use of funds for the implementation of a public-private partnership and the Network;
  • A world class innovation and test lab and technical team are built to foster innovation for public safety; and
  • Independent procurement authority to enable more efficient and decisive purchasing of goods and services.

“ We now have the people, the processes, and the infrastructure in place to ensure a successful public-private partnership to deploy the Network,” said FirstNet CEO Mike Poth. “As an advocate and steward for public safety, it will be our job to ensure the Network meets their needs and objectives.  FirstNet stands ready for this awesome responsibility.”

For more information on the FirstNet Board meeting, visit


Today’s E911 network handles over 240 million calls per year. But its old architecture of routing callers depending on phone numbers gets outmoded the more that technology advances. And for this trouble the Next Generation 911 solution was developed.

However, NG-911 promises a resilient, flexible platform that will make it possible for public-safety answering points (PSAPs) to receive text, voice, video, and data information from emergency callers, but numerous challenges remain before such systems can be implemented and deployed throughout the United States of America.

The future of 9-1-1 NG911 offers huge benefits which include:

  • Data sharing between public-safety answering points (PSAPs)
  • Improved redundancy and reliability (virtual PSAPs)
  • Improved response times
  • Better service to citizenry, specifically the hearing-impaired
  • True System Interoperability
  • Greater visibility into emergency incidents: videos from public-safety systems, images and videos from citizenry, texts from and to citizenry

As with most technologies though, there will be challenges. Telecommunicators will be dealing with substantially more data and communicating with citizens and first responders in very new ways; so quite a lot of training and education will need to be put in motion as well as revamped policies, laws and regulations. But before we deal with these challenges we must face getting the system up and running, the huge challenge of integrating these technologies from an engineering and networking viewpoint.

Challenges and Costs

Even if regionalization helps to reduce the cost of upgrading 911 systems, some parts of new technology make modernization a challenge.

However, Next Generation 911 technology will certainly rely on an Internet Protocol-based system that will have to be protected from hacking. Also it will have to possess the ability to handle a wider range of technology than before, from rotary telephones to developing smart phone applications.

The changes needed to gratify NG911 also have related costs. Software and hardware updates to make the county’s system appropriate for others in the region will probably cost less than five hundred thousand dollars, while the texting service will probably cost the county two thousand four hundred dollars to four thousand dollars monthly.
Some other facts we learn about NG 9-1-1:

  • We have seen there are good reasons to wait and prepare for the arrival of NG911, though; it is still in its infancy right now.
  • By making a text to 911 will be the first thing integrated to 9-1-1 for the hearing impaired. It is up to NENA to embrace and adopt the protocol and figure out the next steps of bringing this standard into the communication centres.
  • Video is the next thing coming down the road…not just texting but being able to take shot of incidents and send video live from an incident while occurring and getting it to 9-1-1 instantly. So if you observe a bank robbery the 911 center could be watching your video live while happening.

Since Next Generation is not ready to go live yet, there is an alternative for call-taking centres to take the first step forward by making use of geo-diverse technology. This alternative solution is an Internet-Protocol-based emergency response system that allows agencies to receive emergency calls and assist sends the fastest, most appropriate emergency responders while also lightening the brunt of the major project updates that will be coming in the future.

Some Telecommunications in Chicago completed the implementation of a huge 911 system with this exact same type of solution. The great thing about this project was that there were three systems at three different call-taking centers, so the agency acquired the ability to move these positions to one area at a later date. Whenever they do, they will be able to do so without losing any data or having any disruption in the service. The other two locations can close down, or a dispatcher can log out and leave that area and go over to the hub center, log in and pick up the calls from their area at the hub continuing as normal. This solution prepares them for Next Generation 911.

Cyber Threat Intelligence?

What is cyber intelligence?

According to CERT-UK, cyber threat intelligence (CTI) is an “elusive” concept. While cyber security comprises the recruitment of IT security experts, and the deployment of technical means, to protect an organization’s critical infrastructure, or intellectual property, CTI is based on the collection of intelligence using open source intelligence (OSINT), social media intelligence (SOCMINT), human Intelligence (HUMINT) or intelligence from the deep and dark web. CTI’s key mission is to research and analyze trends and technical developments in three areas:

Cyber crime
Cyber activism
Cyber espionage (advanced persistent threat or APT)

Those accumulated data based on research and analysis enable states to come up with preventive measures in advance. Considering the seriousness impacts of cyber threats, CTI has been raised as a(n) efficient solution to maintain international security.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Why does this matter?

So the idea behind cyber intelligence is to understand the intent of the adversary in order to develop better strategies for dealing with them, including whether to be offensive, defensive or both. This cyber intelligence is provided in the form of intelligence products that result from collecting, evaluating and interpreting available data concerning known cyber attacks and their surroundings activities. It is important to remember that cyber intelligence is just that intelligence not fact. It is the best educated guess at what your adversary may do based on the data available. The larger the pool of data, the better the analytical abilities and the more effective the countermeasures may only serve to delay, deflect or disengage the adversaries.

What cyber intelligence sources do you rely on?