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Highlights from APCO 2012

By Seth Buechley
August 24th, 2012

In-Building Technology Update Panel at APCO 2012 with Seth Buechley (SOLiD & Safer Buildings Coalition), Minfei Leng at Bird Technologies Group and Greg Glenn of TriPower

In-Building Technology Update Panel

Our recent re-cap of the APCO International 78th Annual Conference & Expo recounted a community of public safety communication professionals invigorated by the opportunity and challenge associated with building a nationwide interoperable public safety network to serve first responders.

Aside from the spectacular weather, described by locally-raised comedian Louie Anderson as the kind that tricked settlers into stopping in the first place, two milestones stood out: (1) the appointment of the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) board of directors and (2) the creation of the annual Jack Daniel Award.

Establishing  a Nationwide Public Safety Wireless Broadband Network

This years show was abuzz from the get-go because the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) deadline for announcing the FirstNet Board responsible for planning and building a nationwide public safety network fell, serendipitously, on August 20th, the first day of the APCO event.

Acting U.S. Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank waxed on about the administrations many accomplishments before proudly announcing the names of the FirstNet Board members who were warmly received by the public safety community.

I have enjoyed the privilege of getting to know Chief Jeff Johnson, past president of the Western Division of the IAFC, during the time we were launching the SOLiD product platform and also while strategizing the formation and mission of the Safer Buildings coalition. Stated simply, he is a strong leader who “gets it” when it comes to the economic and practical reasons why the cellular community and the public safety community will want to leverage common infrastructure to deliver macro and indoor radio services for public safety.

Four public safety members join six cellular and local government members serving alongside three federal agency heads on the FirstNet Board. Of note, there are no radio OEMs (Motorola, Harris, ALU, Cassidian), nor any prime integrator (General Dynamics, Lockheed, etc.), nor active executives from the cellular operators serving as FirstNet Board members.

We can assume this is to prevent conflicts of interest and a vigorous competitive bid environment in the future.

For more on the announcement, see coverage in MissionCritical Communications and Urgent Communications.

Honoring a Lifetime of Service to Public Safety

I was especially pleased to see a new annual award created in the memory of Jack Daniel, a friend and a legendary public safety radio expert.

Jack was a Life Member of APCO and an active member of the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), International Code Council (ICC), International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC), Radio Club of America (RCA) and many more public safety and radio-oriented organizations. Jack, more than any other person, was responsible for setting the vision and doing the hard work that created the model NFPA and International Fire Code (IFC) codes requiring in-building radio coverage.

The Jack Daniel Award will be given annually to an APCO member to recognize excellence and achievement in the public safety communications arena.

In a touch of class, the President of APCO awarded the inaugural Jack Daniel award posthumously to Jack and invited his widow, Pat Daniel, to the main stage to accept his award.

Doing Our Part

SOLiD participated on the in-building technology update panel on Monday delivering the vision of the Safer Buildings Coalition and the methods by which we are working to ensure Distributed Antenna Systems (DAS) installations accommodate public safety radio.

Again, the common sense approach of using Awareness, Policy, and Standards to overcome the fear, uncertainty, and doubt that often prevent or delay the delivery of public safety radio was well-received.

We are officially out of the strategy and launch phase and will now focus our work on assisting some of the nations largest cities with the policy and management tools to develop their own Safer Buildings programs.

Through our product innovations and our leadership in the Safer Buildings Coalition, SOLiD intends to remain squarely in the middle of the conversation seeking to ensure public safety radio is treated like a carpooler rather than a hitchhiker on DAS systems deployed across the US.

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