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Lessons from ‘The Little Engine That Could’ – By Prathima Simha
- FirstNet APIs
Like many of you, I too grew up reading and re-reading the inspiring story of the little blue engine that could. Every time I read the story, my heart pumped a little faster with uncertainty, anxiety, and anticipation as I kept saying aloud ‘I think I can, I think I can, I think I can’. It always ended the same way – with glee on my face that the blue train had successfully carried precious goods on to the other side. My mother, like a pre-programmed robot, would drive home the point of perseverance, hard work and believing in myself.
Now, many years later, as I lead the effort of building products for public safety, I derive a different inspiration from the very same story. Do we really want to send our first responders out to fight emergencies with the mantra ‘I think I can’ alone? The answer is a resounding ‘No’. Our men and women who go out in harm’s way to take care of us should never be uncertain if the communication systems they so depend on will work reliably. Wishful thinking cannot be a strategy. We have to proactively confirm their communications will work well all the time. How do we do that during incidents/events when the network may get congested? With First PriorityTM and App PriorityTM.
First Priority is available to eligible first responders on FirstNet. It allows first responders to receive a high Quality of Service (QoS) irrespective of network congestion. Even in times of congestion, First Priority users continue to be prioritized and if necessary, their traffic preempts those of other users to maintain the required Quality of Service.
With the widespread use of apps spanning a whole spectrum of public safety use cases – strategic and tactical communications, situational awareness, emergency management, rescue and recovery, evidence collection, and much, much more – our first responders rely on apps every day to get their jobs done. It is no longer an exaggeration to say, apps act as the blood-line of today’s communications. App Priority is a FirstNet feature extended to apps crucial for public safety. App Priority allows first responders to experience a high QoS using the app, even during high network load conditions. And this is done without manual intervention; on-demand apps request App Priority when needed. FirstNet Developer Program is making App Priority APIs/SDKs (Application Programming Interfaces/Software Development Kits) available on the FirstNet API Catalog for eligible apps to embed this capability. We encourage public safety technology companies and developers to request App Priority for their apps. To make sure that first responders know which apps have this capability, apps with App Priority are clearly marked with the App Priority icon. Who better to tell us which apps need priority than the first responders themselves? We encourage public safety agencies and first responders recommend apps for App Priority. We continue to serve first responders, who are transmitting precious packets of data on FirstNet, with much-needed features and services.
With First Priority and App Priority, we want our first responders to be able to do their jobs with confidence and return successfully saying “we knew we could, we knew we could, we knew we could”!