An IBM Academy of Technology Perspective about FirstNet, a Public Safety Network

An IBM Redpaper publication

Published 29 July 2014, updated 14 November 2014

Authors: Mark Cleverley, Don Dejewski, John Hogan, Richard McDonald


This IBM® Redpaper™ describes the middleware infrastructure that is required to ensure the successful implementation of a public safety network for first responders. In the United States, this network is called the First Responders Network Authority (FirstNet) or the 700 MHz network. It is our goal to communicate what we believe are the necessary functionalities, products, and next steps to achieve the successful implementation of a collaborative public safety network for first responders. We make the assumption (and therefore do not address) that the telecommunications infrastructure is in place. We focus on the need for various public safety agencies to collaborate and share information, data, and processes.

This paper has multiple sections. The first section, Background, defines the FirstNet-enabled environment and the problems that we believe the middleware infrastructure is designed to solve. We make the assumption that there are two aspects for a public safety broadband implementation:

  • The first aspect is the wireless network (which in the US is planned to be 4G LTE). Long-Term Evolution® (LTE), commonly marketed as 4G LTE, is a standard for wireless communication of high-speed data for mobile phones.
  • The second aspect is the middleware that provides the applications, integration, and data services required.

The authors of this paper assume that telecommunications providers handle the first aspect mentioned. Therefore, this paper focuses on the second aspect mentioned.

The second section of this paper, Solution overview, begins with a generic description of the capabilities we believe are required to be implemented to meet the requirements of a collaborative First Responder network. We describe a possible reference architecture and the use of IBM technologies that can be used to build out the reference architecture to become a functional implementation.

We conclude with a brief description of the next steps that an agency, city, or state might start with as they embark on considering solutions for their locale.

This paper is the product of the sponsorship and collaborative efforts of members of the IBM Academy of Technology (, a society of IBM technical leaders organized to advance the understanding of key technical areas, to improve communications in and the development of the IBM global technical community, and to engage clients in technical pursuits of common value.

We extend our thanks to the members of the IBM Academy of Technology who sponsored this paper, which describes how the nation's first public safety network, FirstNet, can be implemented.

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