Mass. will opt into federal emergency response system

BOSTON (SHNS) – Massachusetts will opt into a federal emergency response communications program designed to reduce response times during emergencies, the governor told the federal government this week.

In a letter dated Thursday, Gov. Charlie Baker officially accepted the state-specific plan for Massachusetts’ buildout of the system, which the federal government had delivered to him in September.

Baker had until Dec. 28 to either opt into FirstNet or assemble a different plan to access the nationwide network.

“The Baker-Polito Administration has agreed to opt in to the State Plan prepared by the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) to provide another option for public safety wireless data services here in Massachusetts,” Baker spokesman Brendan Moss said in an email.

Cities and towns will not be required to do anything differently due to Baker’s decision and the state currently has no plans to change public safety wireless data service, the administration said.

FirstNet, also known as the National Public Safety Broadband Network, is envisioned as the first high-speed wireless, broadband data network dedicated for use by public safety agencies. Congress established it in 2012 and the board that oversees the effort expects the system will be ready to serve 60,000 public safety agencies, 3,144 counties and 567 federally recognized tribes by 2022.

In addition to Massachusetts, 41 states, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands have opted into the FirstNet system.

NH: 1st state opts out of broadband public safety network