Kendall County emergency director applauds state's decision to join first responder network
Joseph Gillespie sleeps easier knowing Illinois has opted into the nationwide broadband FirstNet public safety program.
“I was actively involved in a task force supporting FirstNet,” Gillespie, director of the Kendall County Emergency Management Agency, told the Kendall County Times. “I just want that out there,” he added of the broadband data option that in Illinois will be will be solely dedicated to public safety use.
The development of FirstNet was the last recommendation of the 9/11 Commission, intended to ensure first responders like Gillespie have dedicated cellular bandwidth at all times.
It's being rolled out nationwide in 2018; Illinois opted in to FirstNet in December.
Gillespie said he knows firsthand just how far such a platform can go toward allaying certain safety concerns and potential crisis situations.
“When the Cubs won the World Series, cellular communication was basically shut down in the city of Chicago,” he said. “So many people trying to stream videos. So many people trying to call and show people what they were doing, send pictures and things of that nature. You’re trying to get all this stuff through a commercial network. The problem is that first-responders all need to use that same infrastructure. We don’t have access to it because it’s busy. Not having a readily available system for us to jump on can be very devastating.”
Gillespie said the FirstNet broadband data option in Illinois will be solely dedicated to public safety use.
In Illinois, Gov. Bruce Rauner recently detailed plans of the public-private partnership between First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) and AT&T that will come at no cost to the state while driving innovation and creating an entire state-of-the-art system of devices, apps and tools for first responders.
“It is going to provide cellular communications, data exclusively to our first responders,” Gillespie said. “We’ll have the availability – once this is done – to have a private network where I don’t have to compete for that cellular time.
"We’re doing more and more over computer and broadband over our cars," he said. "We can be streaming back pictures of things (instantly) where it is not easy today because bandwidth is not available or too expensive. When FirstNet comes in, we’ll be able to do that, and we’ll be able to do it efficiently, privately and securely.”