As it continues to build a consensus, defining the problems that prevent in-building wireless systems, the Safer Buildings Coalition has been broaching the topic across multiple communities. In particular, it is looking to FirstNet, the proposed nationwide broadband public safety network, to be an ally in its mission to make buildings safer through wireless communications.
Deployment of a nationwide public safety network without consideration of in-building spaces would be a lost opportunity, according to Seth Buechley, SOLiD president and co-founder of the coalition, who has been engaging with the FirstNet leaders on the subject of in-building coverage.
“We find a shared concern that, without appropriate action, the FirstNet nationwide broadband network will get built and the public safety radios still will not work indoors,” he said.
The question remains as to whether FirstNet will take a position on in-building coverage or leave the matter up to each individual state.
“We want to prevent what happened in the cellular industry, which spent 20 years focusing on the macro networks and at the end of that they began to focus on the in-building coverage,” Buechley said.
In-building wireless systems pose a number of challenges that will require stakeholders to band together, Buechley said, such as how to define best practices. A consensus must be achieved among the various stakeholders about the importance of in-building wireless systems, he said.
“We have elevated the conversations across multiple communities and so the panelists reflect a broad section of the stakeholders, the cellular community, public safety and the vendor community,” Buechley said. “We have been very impressed with the way the public safety community, in particular, has jumped into the conversation.”
One of those conversations will take place at APCO International 79th Annual Conference & Expo, Aug. 18, in Anaheim, Calif., where Buechley will host a panel of public-safety executives to discuss in-building public-safety communications challenges and opportunities on a panel titled, “Developing Standards and Certifications for Converged Public-Safety and Cellular DAS Networks.”
Panel participants will be Jonathan S. Adelstein, president and CEO, PCIA – The Wireless Infrastructure Association; Buechley; Robert LeGrande II, founder, The Digital Decision, LLC; James Teel, director of business development, Harris Corporation.
“We are at the formative stage of identifying policy and technology solutions at the highest level through FirstNet for delivering mission-critical emergency communications to save lives,” said LeGrande. “To overcome often-conflicting interests and myriad challenges that include technical, liability, cost and management, pragmatic solutions must inspire — not simply require — stakeholders to participate.”