While states are still in the process of deciding whether they are opting in or opting out of FirstNet, AT&T and FirstNet are moving ahead with public safety and innovation.

The two organizations have launched an application developer program focused on first responders. FirstNet & AT&T say this is the first program of its kind and believe it will encourage public safety-focused innovation.

“The developer program establishes a clear line of sight between public safety and app developers,” said Chris Sambar, senior vice president at AT&T-FirstNet. “It will help ensure the apps developed truly meet first responders’ field needs. It’s a really important thing that was missing from the market. Until now.”

The developer program will feed the FirstNet app store and provide first responders with purpose-built communication solutions optimized for the FirstNet network. All of the apps will be based on common and open standards.

“This program will tap into the expertise and creativity of the developer community to drive innovation for public safety,” said FirstNet CEO Mike Poth. “It will also connect first responders with developers to create apps that will help them stay safe and save lives.”

Developers will have access to a specialized portal that houses resources to help developers build, test, and deploy and maintain public safety apps. FirstNet and AT&T plan to host events and challenges to foster collaboration and innovation. According to FirstNet & AT&T, some areas of focus for potential developers include:

  • Situational awareness.
  • In-building mapping.
  • Field reporting and records management.
  • Wearable devices and telemetry solutions.
  • Forensic intelligence.

“The FirstNet app ecosystem is an important building block as we work to modernize public safety’s communications tools and capabilities,” said Sambar. “The FirstNet network will bring public safety the connectivity they need to communicate and collaborate. But it’s really what we’re able to build on top of that connectivity that will make the biggest difference in these brave men and women’s day-to-day operations.”

All apps will be reviewed by FirstNet and AT&T before being added to the app store. FirstNet and AT&T will evaluate performance, service level agreements, and potential source code vulnerabilities. After review, an app will be labeled either “certified” or “reviewed” depending on the app’s up-time availability, resiliency, and scalability for simultaneous users. In addition to encouraging new app innovation, the developer program will also evaluate existing public safety apps for potential inclusion in the store.

“The FirstNet app store will combine the convenience of a public app store with the security of a private app store,” said Poth. “We look forward to working with companies, individual developers and first responders to stock the store’s virtual shelves with fully vetted and highly secure apps to help public safety personnel achieve their mission.”

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Kate Polit
Kate Polit
Kate Polit is MeriTalk SLG's Assistant Copy & Production Editor, covering Cybersecurity, Education, Homeland Security, Veterans Affairs