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Guam Consultation Highlights the Unique Needs of an Island Territory

Date Posted: 
Thursday, January 7, 2016 - 09:15


By Dave Buchanan, FirstNet Director of Consultation
(posted on www.firstnet.gov website on 12-28-2015)

On a sunny and warm island day, more than 65 public safety stakeholders came together at the Westin Resort in Tumon Bay for the Guam Initial Consultation.  The day’s proceedings began with welcoming remarks from Brigadier General Johnny Lizama, Guam Homeland Security Advisor and a special visit from Lieutenant Governor Ray Tenorio.  The Lieutenant Governor told all the stakeholders present that their contributions to the FirstNet consultation were very important, likening the consultation process to making kådu, the Chamorro word for soup. “What you put in is what you end up consuming,” he said. Discussions throughout the day focused on the territory’s existing communications infrastructure and how FirstNet might augment it with a dedicated nationwide public safety broadband network (NPSBN).  Guam’s use case presentations involved overviews of data usage and future needs of the Guam Police Department (GPD) and the Guam Fire Department (GFD), as well as how data supports GHS’ disaster response and recovery operations.

Use Case: Day to Day Use of NPSBN for Island Community Safety 
Officer J.P. Rodriguez, GPD

Officer Rodriguez gave a high-level overview of the GPD’s day-to-day wireless footprint and data usage. The GPD went almost completely paperless a few years ago, switching to e-citations, electronic crash reports, and Global Positioning System (GPS) tracking of some of its vehicles, so Wi-Fi connectivity is very important for them.  They have the foundation in place for submitting electronic police reports from patrol cars but it was not cost-effective at the time of deployment, so the capability has yet to be fully integrated.  The GPD and other agencies rely heavily on radio for interoperability and disaster response, but their current land mobile radio system is 20 years old.  They are currently trying to update it to an Internet Protocol-based system to support their 2,000 subscriber units.  The GPD would also like to switch to a mobile computer-aided dispatch system and integrate body cameras for its officers.

Use Case: Day to Day Use of NPSBN for Island Community Safety 
Chief Joey San Nicolas, GFD

Chief San Nicholas talked about the GFD’s use of data in its fire, emergency medical services (EMS), search and rescue, and hazardous materials responses.  In particular, he talked about the department’s use of rugged tablet computers and their centralized fire and EMS management system.  Responders use the tablets to send patient and incident details via electronic forms to hospitals, stations, and ambulances.  The centralized management system collects fire and EMS data, allows for inventory management, and provides detailed information for fire response operations, including pre-planning information and mapping.  The department has had connectivity issues that have made cellular phones their primary means of communications, and they have worked with a service provider to develop a public safety service plan to make them more affordable for personnel.  The chief said that he also wants to build a new 9-1-1 center with the GPD.

Use Case: How Can NPSBN Assist in Disaster Recovery
Administrator Charles Esteves, Office of Civil Defense

Charles gave a presentation on the potential for data use in disaster recovery.  He said that there are three kinds of public safety events: planned, forecasted, and no-notice.  Disaster recovery, he said, occurs both pre-disaster and alongside response, not just after an event is over.  It includes community planning and capacity building, and deals with economic, health and social services, housing, infrastructure systems, and natural and cultural resources issues.  GHS’ Emergency Operations Center coordinates response and recovery operations through the DisasterLAN (DLAN) platform and its common operational picture.  The DLAN has streaming video capability, but Guam has never used it because it is cost and resource prohibitive.  Charles stressed that the success of response and recovery operations relies heavily on collecting good information on scene and getting it to decision makers, something FirstNet could help do.

I want to thank Guam Single Point of Contact (SPOC) Brad Hokanson and GHS Program Coordinator Leigh Pereda for organizing such an interesting and successful consultation meeting, as well as Lieutenant Governor Tenorio and all the other Guam stakeholders for their participation.  FirstNet is dedicated to providing all 56 states and territories with a hardened, resilient public safety broadband system that addresses all of their unique needs.  This was my first trip to the territory, but I hope it will not be my last.