In 2011, Harris County Central Technology Services (CTS) deployed the first Public Safety LTE program in the nation. As a part of our spectrum lease agreement with the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) to continue operation of the network, CTS was required to deploy HCLTE system during Super Bowl LI (SBLI) to provide lessons learned for the nationwide deployment on how PSLTE could be utilized during large-scale special events. The SBLI deployment of mobile apps to augment voice radio communications was a tremendous success which has been recognized globally for setting a new precedent on how public safety can collaborate and share information across functions and jurisdictions.
One of the greatest accomplishments of the SBLI deployment was mobile data interoperability across ten city, county, state and federal agencies. The suite of apps utilized during SBLI has become a standard for most special events in and around the City of Houston. These apps were crucial during the World Series, and particularly the Astros Championship Parade, in which the lack of planning time created challenges for radio communications.
In March 2017, FirstNet awarded a contract to AT&T to deploy the Nationwide Public Safety Broadband Network (NPSBN). The spectrum used for the HCLTE network was transferred to AT&T, and the network was decommissioned in March 2018.
Public safety agencies throughout the region recognized that the successful adoption and interoperability achieved were due to the role CTS played as a solution provider rather than solely as a network operator. While the reliability of the HCLTE network was instrumental to agencies having the confidence to utilize technologies beyond Land Mobile Radio (LMR), the success was mostly a result of the year of operational planning in which CTS and the SBLI Communications Working Group identified requirements, tested products, developed a solution framework and information architecture to meet specific and collective operational requirements, and trained end users as well as the support provided during the operational period. Without the coordinated planning across the major participating agencies, the results could not have been realized.
The agencies and units who have utilized these tools during special events recognize the potential they have for improving public safety outcomes during daily operations and incident response. With regional coordination, we have the ability to adopt interoperable systems for daily operational use which can be leveraged to communicate across agencies and functions of public safety during incident response.
Given the risk of fragmented app adoption which would lead to non-interoperable systems, CTS is continuing to operate the HCLTE program with a focus on working with agencies to solve the operational challenges of each unique function of public safety through the adoption of mobile technologies. With this coordinated approach, we have a unique opportunity to avoid the kinds of major interoperability challenges of the past with systems like radio, video and Computer-Aided Dispatch (CAD) by proactively adopting common platforms across agencies.
CTS is working with agencies to build a portfolio of solutions to address operational requirements such as collaboration and information sharing, outdoor/indoor location services and many others. As more requirements are identified, our regional mobility services portfolio will continue to expand based on the needs and product preferences of our stakeholders.