LPS Security has been officially recognized as an “emergency responding agency” through FirstNet AT&T. This ensures LPS has increased telecommunications during an emergency situation. If an incident occurs, LPS Security has multiple hotspots and cell phones that will maintain network access and won’t be throttled down.
FirstNet was created after 9/11 and helped provide first responding agencies with their own cellular service and connection during emergencies. LPS had to apply to FirstNet to receive the designation of “emergency responding agency,” and part of the application required Security to explain their emergency responding role and to demonstrate the department’s interoperability with other local first responders. FirstNet is the nation’s only federal government cellular provider, and it is the largest network providing this sort of service to first responding agencies.
As part of this designation, LPS Security received several hotspots and two cell phones that have priority access during emergencies. More devices are on the way. These devices save the district around $20–30 per month each, as they cut down on the number of devices the security department has to pay for from their usual wireless carrier.
Mike Newton, LPS’s director of security and emergency planning, said, “If there is an emergency requiring reunification, we are able to deploy the hotspots to maintain uninterrupted data access.” He added, “This plan also incorporates Enhanced Push to Talk (EPTT), which turns our cell phones into radios. Any first responders who have EPTT capability can immediately communicate with us in Security. Between our $1.1 million SchoolSafe grant and FirstNet, our interoperability has been significantly enhanced in 2020.”
Mr. Newton said, “Moving forward, LPS can completely remove the necessity to purchase new 800mhz radios and solely use EPTT for communication. EPTT-enabled devices can communicate with any 800mhz radio linked to our system.” He says a new 800mhz radio costs around $5,000. Adding devices to the district’s network will continue to save the district money while increasing communication abilities.
Currently, there are only ten school districts in Colorado (out of 181) approved to utilize FirstNet.