CHHS Interoperability Expertise Brings First Consultation for Nationwide Public Safety Network to Maryland

Press Release:
Today’s meeting between the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) and Maryland’s executive leadership was the result, in part, of dedication and expertise provided by the University of Maryland Center for Health and Homeland Security (CHHS).  A non-profit consulting and academic group, CHHS has supported Maryland’s efforts in interoperability for more than seven years.

FirstNet, an independent entity within the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration, was established by Congress in 2012 to build, implement, and oversee the first ever nationwide public safety broadband network.  Once deployed, first responders across the U.S. will have the power to share critical data and information, making emergency management safer and more efficient.

Under the Maryland Statewide Interoperability Office, utilizing the State and Local Implantation Grant Program, CHHS was secured to develop and staff a Maryland FirstNet Broadband Team.  Five CHHS associates who make up the team – Senior Law and Policy Analysts Lori Romer Stone and Christopher Webster, and Law and Policy Analysts Max Romanik, Ben Yelin, and Rachael Almarez – have spent the past year collecting input from first responders and public safety leaders to ensure Maryland was ready for its initial consultation with FirstNet.

Ray Lehr, Maryland’s State Point of Contact for FirstNet stated: “The team from CHHS has provided invaluable support that has not only been recognized within the state, but FirstNet and other states have pointed to Maryland as the model for how to do outreach, education and planning in a dynamic and very successful manner.”

While several states submitted checklists to FirstNet earlier this year to initiate the meeting process, mandated by law for all U.S. states and territories, Maryland was chosen for today’s first consultation due largely in part to solid interoperability practices already in place. The Center first contributed to the state’s success through the development of the 2008 Executive Order that established Maryland’s Statewide Interoperable Executive Committee and Office.  Additionally, during the 2014 Maryland General Assembly, the state formalized its governance body for a statewide radio communication system, known as Maryland FiRST, by enacting legislation for the Radio Control Board, which CHHS interoperability experts laid the groundwork for through outreach and policy recommendations.

Since the Broadband Team began outreach in preparation for FirstNet, more than 1,000 stakeholders have been reached.  Interoperability professionals at CHHS will continue to support Maryland’s efforts as they move forward with next steps in planning and implementation of this mission critical broadband network.

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