Public safety and law enforcement agencies that have signed onto FirstNet will now be able to access ArcGIS, Esri’s mapping and spatial analysis technology, within the network’s app ecosystem.
The nation’s dedicated public safety broadband network announced the development of its app ecosystem last May , with AT&T hosting a flurry of hackathons and events to build out the catalog over the past year. The latest announcement — including apps from Esri, Netmotion, PulsePoint and SceneDoc — was made last Thursday .
Esri, which works with more than 350,000 governments and businesses worldwide, initially provided thought leadership and best practice ideas to FirstNet, according to Mike King, the company’s global public safety manager. When FirstNet awarded AT&T it’s contract to build out the public safety network, the working relationship between the two expanded, with Esri offering its APIs and SDKs to the FirstNet “developer” network — a free marketplace for developers to create their own applications.
The “natural next step” was to introduce Explorer for ArcGIS into the app ecosystem, King said. Those apps were already available for Android and iOS, but the introduction onto the FirstNet ecosystem adds “another level of security” to public safety officials and first responders using them, King added.
The app provides the mapping analysis of ArcGIS combined with Esri’s software as a service, ArcGIS Online, to create a mobile environment with access to agency maps, dashboards and storyboards — as well as the ability to share maps within and outside of agency addresses.
First responders coming into a disaster area, especially from distantly-located agencies, might struggle to understand a new agency’s infrastructure or security measures. Both FirstNet and Esri are banking on the app’s presence within the Firstnet marketplace as a secure way to share such information across agencies.
“If a disaster occurs in a particular part of the country, and the host agency of that disaster is an Esri customer,” King said, “but they have mutual aid coming in from 50 different sources — some of which may or not be Esri customers — they have toolkits now to share that geographic data with everyone.”
Public safety agencies that are already Esri customers would receive mapping information directly. Those that aren’t, though, can just log into the FirstNet app ecosystem, download the app and get the information they need.
King said that Esri plans to continue to build out into the ecosystem with new apps and enhancements as they’re certified by FirstNet.