On October 22, 23 and 24, the MAPB attended the International Association of Emergency Managers Conference in Grand Rapids to talk to emergency managers about the advantages of datacasting to supplement a program called “FirstNet,” which is currently being rolled out nationwide by AT&T.

FirstNet is a program that gives priority traffic to First Responders on the AT&T cellular network.  Despite this priority traffic, cellular sites still suffer from congestion during times of high use as well as failures during natural disasters. In conjunction with APTS (America’s Public Television Stations) and Spectrarep, public television stations in Michigan can use a portion of their assigned bandwidth to deliver high speed data, including video, images, files and other communication to First Responders in the field.

MAPB member stations have pledged to devote bandwidth to this datacasting effort.  Michigan’s public television stations cover nearly all of the state, including rural areas not served with adequate cellular coverage.  Also Michigan’s public television stations have hardened facilities with backup power and can stay on the air when cellular service is lost.

In Grand Rapids, MAB/MAPB’s Karole White and Dan Kelley manned the booth along with Gary Reid of WKAR/MSU, Michael Walenta, formerly of WGVU Public Media, and Al Catalano, representing APTS.  All five talked to members of the emergency management community and displayed video demonstrations of the technology in the exhibit hall.

The group was happy to meet with emergency managers, especially those from Michigan, to discuss the value of a strong cooperative relationship between emergency mangers and their local broadcasters.

This will be an on-going effort.  For more information, visit publicTV4publicsafety.com.

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