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NTIA Closes First Phase of Grant Program that Laid Groundwork for FirstNet

November 06, 2018 by Marsha MacBride, Associate Administrator of the Office of Public Safety Communications

As public safety agencies around the country take advantage of FirstNet, the first nationwide public safety broadband network (NPSBN), NTIA is marking the end of a grant program that helped lay the groundwork for FirstNet’s success.

In 2013, NTIA awarded $116.5 million in grants to 54 U.S. states and territories under the State and Local Implementation Grant Program (SLIGP). The funding helped prepare recipients for consultation with FirstNet, and allowed recipients to conduct stakeholder outreach to better understand the needs of public safety stakeholders.

In less than five years, SLIGP grant recipients engaged more than 350,000 stakeholders, facilitated more than 2,700 governance and planning meetings, and distributed more than 6 million resources, including guides, pamphlets, briefing sheets and e-newsletters.

Tennessee used their SLIGP funding to develop a “scorecard” website to motivate stakeholders to complete training that would prepare them for optimal participation in the NPSBN. Texas created informational videos and an e-learning portal for public safety broadband, which helped keep stakeholders informed and engaged. 

Funding was also used to collect data that helped contribute to final design and buildout plans for the network. Idaho, for example, conducted a listening tour to gather input from first responders across the state, and Michigan collected data using electronic surveys, direct outreach and regional workshops. Among other users for the data, state governors used this information to inform their decision about participating in FirstNet.

Every state and territory ultimately decided to “opt-in” to FirstNet.

In May, NTIA announced that it had made 46 grant awards under a second round of funding called SLIGP 2.0, which used leftover funds from the first round of funding. These funds will support continued planning for FirstNet as it is implemented across the nation, with activities including the development of data-sharing agreements, helping with the transition of public safety applications to the NPSBN, analyzing coverage gaps, and convening stakeholder meetings.