The FirstNet mission will provide a communications platform that “will bring 21st century tools to public safety agencies and first responders, allowing them to get more information quickly and helping them to make faster and better decisions,” according to FirstNet.
Through the FirstNet Dealer Program, organizations can provide essential tools, technology, and equipment to first responders, and now Panasonic adds its name to the list.
“Panasonic is proud to join the FirstNet Dealer Program and ensure that those we rely on to protect our communities have access to the critical communications tools they need. As existing and future customers make the transition to FirstNet, Panasonic will be there to support the FirstNet mission,” says Brian Rowley, vice president of Marketing and Product Management, Panasonic System Solutions Company of North America.
The WDD Q&A below features Mary Beth Hall, director of wireless strategy at Panasonic, where we dive into the details about Panasonic joining the FirstNet Dealer Program.
WDD: Panasonic was selected to participate in the FirstNet Dealer Program due to their focus on mobility solutions for public safety agencies. What aspects about this particular focus made Panasonic appeal to FirstNet and AT&T?
Hall: Panasonic Toughbook has been a trusted partner for public safety agencies for the past two decades. When AT&T won the bid for FirstNet, we knew it was the perfect opportunity for both organizations to collaborate and create a first-of-its-kind solution. At Panasonic, we build devices designed to handle the most extreme and demanding work environments, and AT&T was creating a network customized for emergency managers. We quickly realized that a partnership made sense, and together, we developed a solution to meet the unique needs of first responders.
WDD: In terms of feedback, what are some early impressions first responders are having on the technical and design features of devices that will be offered through the dealer program like the Toughbook, along with tablets, 2-in-1 devices, and other handhelds?
Hall: First responders need devices that are equally reliable and rugged, that can be used in a wide range of everyday situations, from natural disasters to traffic accidents. The most resounding feedback we’ve received is that Toughbook products always keep working, regardless of the condition or environment. More specifically, our fire department customers like the flexibility of having a device with a detachable keyboard in the truck, but with the ability to transform the device into a tablet when they are on the scene. Overall, we’re seeing handheld devices become more popular among public safety customers, which makes reporting much easier on the go.
WDD: When we spoke back in August, one of the things you mentioned was how first responders are looking to consolidate more with the devices they use. How much did the consolidation abilities of devices like Panasonic’s Toughbook factor into the decision into joining the FirstNet Dealer Program?
Hall: With the power of FirstNet and the reliability of Toughbook, first responders are able to eliminate many outdated devices and processes, which is helping to reduce costs, streamline workflows, and improve efficiency. The diverse lineup of devices available through AT&T’s FirstNet Dealer Program was one of the main aspects that drew Panasonic to join the organization. Panasonic has a broad range of Toughbook products that meet the needs of both Primary and Extended Primary users on FirstNet, and we’re continuing to develop our product roadmap moving forward.
WDD: One of the biggest hurdles in emergency situations is speed and quality of communication. How will the devices Panasonic is going to make available through the FirstNet Dealer Program improve that facet for FirstNet?
Hall: Toughbook devices are purpose-built and designed to enhance connectivity between first responders and their teams. Our public safety customers trust Panasonic because we value and incorporate the voice of the customer in our product development process and in every facet of our corporate culture. If the customer encounters any technical issues, our field engineering teams have been trained and can respond quickly to resolve the situation. We use the latest LTE embedded module and chipset for wireless communications so first responders can take advantage of FirstNet’s priority and preemption services. We’re also working to embed a Band 14 module and chipset in our future products so they are FirstNet ready out of the box. Additionally, all of our devices have gone through rigorous tests by PTCRB, AT&T, and FirstNet.
Filed Under: M2M (machine to machine)