Assistant Secretary for Communications and Information Lawrence Strickling was honored today for his leadership on behalf of the Obama administration’s efforts to enact wireless deployment and public safety provisions in the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012. PCIA, The Wireless Infrastructure Association, and the Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials International (APCO) recognized Assistant Secretary Strickling and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) for their work in helping to give first responders the 21st century tools they need to better respond to emergencies.
As part of the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012, Congress created the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) as an independent entity within NTIA to help establish the nation’s first nationwide public safety broadband network. For too long, the public safety community has been hampered by a patchwork of incompatible networks. Once operational, this network will allow first responders to better access information while at the scene of an emergency or natural disaster, such as being able to obtain the blueprints to a burning building.
NTIA met the congressional deadline to stand up FirstNet by Aug. 20, 2012, and has been working closely with the FirstNet board since to begin planning for the network. In addition to helping FirstNet with administrative and other tasks, NTIA is also overseeing a new $135 million State and Local Implementation Grant Program. The program will help state, regional, tribal and local jurisdictions in their planning to ensure FirstNet meets their wireless public safety needs. NTIA began accepting applications for the program in February and plans to award grants by mid-July.