Have you ever thought about what happens during a major public safety incident like a five-alarm fire or an emergency situation in a big city? As someone who has lived in New York City for more than 10 years, it’s one of those things that I sometimes take for granted.

A surge in call volume during an emergency can overwhelm mobile communications networks, not only preventing citizens from reaching their loved ones but also stopping critical communications among first responders. These concerns have prevented public safety agencies from committing more fully to a transition from legacy radios to modern smartphones.

I spoke with The Public Safety Network’s Jason Karp and Vicki Lee about the how this is being addressed with the evolution of mobile public safety technologies.

“[During an emergency], the public would all jump on their cell phones, and that would create significant congestion,” Karp said. This would in turn jam the networks, so first responders would then have to use their land-mobile radios in order to talk to one another.

“That’s not an acceptable solution when it comes to an emergency or critical solution,” Karp added. “The FirstNet network is going to change this dramatically. It really has created a paradigm shift in leveraging wireless communications in mission-critical situations. And it’s doing that by essentially creating a virtual separate network for public safety, so when the networks are congested due to emergency, public safety will always have the opportunity to get through.”

These new mobile applications will also help address the need for public safety agencies to more effectively collaborate and communicate in a large-scale emergency, helping to make us all a little bit safer.

Learn more about the public safety technology that’s improving officer safety and access to information.