Though it’s not a renowned high-tech hub, Brazos County, Tx., has become the showroom for what technology can do for police officers, paramedics and firefighters nationwide, through the newly created FirstNet wireless network, the Washington Post reports. When Brazos sheriff’s deputies entered a standoff with an armed man in his home, they positioned four cars around the building and streamed live video through FirstNet back to their command center from their phones. When firefighters launched a swiftwater rescue recently, they were able to show it in real time through FirstNet to their supervisors. When a man tried to register a stolen car fraudulently, a lieutenant was able to patch into the government center cameras through FirstNet and watch the crime in progress.
“It’s given us some incredible communication,” said Brazos Sheriff Chris Kirk, “that we’ve been able to put to good use. It makes us much more efficient.” The idea for FirstNet was long in gestation, beginning with the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, but has rapidly come to fruition in the year since AT&T won a contract to build it for the federal government. The idea was a dedicated wireless network exclusively for first responders, enabling them to communicate in emergencies on a secure system built to handle massive amounts of data.