Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced Thursday that Arkansas will join the FirstNet Network. This will make Arkansas one of the first states in the country to join a resource bringing advanced technologies to help first responders save lives and protect communities.
“First responders put their lives on the line each day to protect our communities. I am excited to partner with FirstNet and AT&T to provide innovative communication technologies and tools that will help first responders protect communities and lives. This is a major step forward for the Arkansas public safety community, and I am proud that Arkansas is among the first states in the nation to opt into this critical infrastructure project,” Hutchinson said.
FirstNet and AT&T will build, operate and maintain a secure wireless broadband communications network for Arkansas’ public safety community at no cost to the state during the next 25 years. The network will be innovative and create a system of modern devices, apps, and other tools for first responders. The network will transform the way Arkansas’ fire, police, EMS and other public safety personnel communicate and share information. The network will:
- Connect first responder subscribers to the critical information securely when handling day-to-day operations, responding to emergencies, and supporting events such as the Arkansas State Fair and Riverfest.
- Create an efficient communications experience for public safety personnel in agencies and jurisdictions across the State during natural disasters. This includes fires and severe weather events like tornadoes, straight-line winds, ice storms and devastating flooding throughout Arkansas.
- Enhance network coverage in rural areas. This will benefit first responders and residents in less populated areas of the state.
- Drive infrastructure investments and create jobs across the state.
- Usher in a new wave of innovation for first responders. This will create an evolving set of life-saving tools for public safety, including public safety apps, specialized devices and Internet of Things technologies. It carries the potential for future integration with NextGen 9-1-1 networks and Smart Cities’ infrastructure.
“Governor Hutchinson and I have shared a vision for a safe and secure country since our days in Homeland Security. Today, he has made one of the most economical and technologically advanced decisions he can make for the safety of Arkansas’ residents and first responders,” former Pennsylvania governor and Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge said. “Participation in FirstNet is going to transform how Arkansas’ first responders coordinate during emergencies and everyday situations.”
The FirstNet solution that will be built in Arkansas was designed with direct input from the state’s public safety community. Since 2013, FirstNet has met with Arkansas officials and public safety personnel more than 30 times to address their unique communication needs and challenges.