SAN DIEGO—Officials for the Public Safety Technology Alliance (PSTA) today will launch the new non-profit organization, which is being established to advocate for public safety identifying, testing and adopting open-standards equipment and applications.

PSTA CEO TJ Kennedy—founder of The Public Safety Network and former FirstNet president—said the PSTA hopes to help encourage consensus around public-safety standards and testing to help clarify first-responder agencies’ purchasing decisions and vendors’ product-development efforts. PSTA will conduct a panel session today at the Public Safety Communications Research (PSCR) Broadband Stakeholders conference to formally launch the organization.

“The goal of the PSTA is really ensuring open standards for both devices and applications are use on public-safety networks worldwide,” Kennedy said during an interview with IWCE’s Urgent Communications. “We’re really working with both industry and public safety to make that happen.

 “Our goal is not to be a standards body, per se, but to help drive industry standards and compliance and to also ensure that public safety chooses standards, so that everyone—both in industry and public safety—knows what the standards are that are going to be followed.”

Establishing the PSTA at this makes sense as FirstNet is being deployed and several other international public-safety broadband initiatives are getting started, Kennedy said.

“The time to do it is now—in the beginning—not five years from now,” he said. “We don’t want to be down the road where we have these things that don’t work, because we haven’t set the standards and we haven’t been clear—from public safety to industry, and from industry to public safety—on what makes sense.

“It’s one of those things that everybody knows needs to occur. Industry has been talking about it, public safety has been talking about it, and certainly it makes more sense for them to do it together, versus doing it in a vacuum. People also want to have an honest broker, so by setting up a non-profit that is going to do it with strong industry and public-safety participation, it’s a way to meet both of those needs in a proactive and incentivized sort of way, where everybody’s coming to the table voluntarily to do the right thing for public.”

As a reflection of this desired cooperation between industry and public safety, the nine-member PSTA board will have five public-safety representatives and four industry representatives. PSTA also will have a 21-member advisory committee with public-safety and industry representation.

“Technology must support the mission critical roles of public safety to better serve the residents of the communities we protect” Mike Duyck, PSTA board member and fire chief of Tualatin Valley Fire and Rescue, said in a prepared statement. “Importantly, this is the first time public safety will be an integral part of selecting the technical standards for mobile broadband technologies that will be used by first responders.”

In addition to Duyck, the public-safety representatives on the PSTA board are:

  • Rich Carrizzo—Fire Chief, Southern Platte Fire Protection District (MO)
  • Jonathan Lewin, Bureau of Technical Services Chief and CIO, Chicago PD (IL)\
  • Sean Malinowski – Deputy Chief and Chief of Staff, LAPD (CA)
  • David Theel – Captain, Pima County Sheriff’s Office (AZ)

One of the PSTA board members representing industry is Stuart McKee, Microsoft’s chief technology officer for U.S. state and local government.

“PSTA-certified open standards and APIs created through industry and public safety collaboration will help promote interoperable data and communications, which will provide agencies investing in new technology confidence and help accelerate adoption of innovative solutions to support the public-safety mission,” McKee said in a prepared statement.