23% of States Lag on FirstNet Outreach


A new report from National Association of State Chief Information Officers (NASCIO) shows that nearly a quarter of states have yet to begin education and outreach about FirstNet. FirstNet is a nationwide high speed broadband network that will enable first responders to handle critical voice, data and video communications in the event of a natural disaster, emergency, or national security event. Each state will eventually be part of the FirstNet network, but, they’re also taking varied approaches to wrangling necessary information from stakeholders.

Some of NASCIO’s results were surprising, with almost a quarter of states not engaged in active stakeholder outreach, and more than half the states already collecting data they plan to utilize in their planning efforts. NASCIO also found that while over 70% of states appear to have a governance model in place and are turning towards actively engaging in planning and outreach with key stakeholders, some have aggressively moved ahead and have begun collecting data, while a handful are still working on initial governance and staffing concerns.

“We were surprised to find that a significant number of respondents stated they have already collected the necessary data on operations, assets and user baselines necessary for their state plans as this is an element of the second round of State and Local Government Implementation Grant Program (SLIGP), which has not yet been awarded nor outlined,” authors write, outlining other surprises in the research. “Some respondents elaborated that the states have collected data on infrastructure and public safety baseline needs on an ongoing basis for some time—often for other means. Others mentioned that as part of their planning process, they identified existing databases that provided much of the necessary information.”

States appear to be planning through a few options for staffing the FirstNet project including using existing staff, contracting with the private sector, or hiring new staff. In all, FirstNet planning appears to be going the way of most government projects, with some states pressing forward, while others wander behind.