• Priorities Podcast

Next-generation paging for public safety

On this week’s Priorities podcast, a North Carolina technology official outlines how a new, experimental emergency paging system for first responders is gaining traction in his state.

Red Grasso, director of North Carolina’s First Responder Emerging Technologies agency, or FirstTech, is tasked with helping public safety agencies in his state stay “on the cutting edge of technology,” according to its website. Grasso says the new, one-way communications system relies on a modern digital television standard, called ATSC 3.0, to help 911 centers reach first responders more reliably. The project won a 2023 NASCIO State IT Recognition Award.

“Some of the paging systems that exist today are built on 50- or 60-year-old technology that is very analog and it can take quite a bit of time to get the information from the 911 center out into the field,” Grasso says.

Developed in partnership with PBS and federal agencies, Grasso says the system’s early success is gaining attention throughout his state and more agencies are asking when they can avail themselves of the new technology.

“This prototype is digital and it’s really taking advantage of the ability to send information in a quick data burst, which can compress the amount of time to get the information out into the field,” he says.

Grasso says paging systems do not, of course, replace two-way communications platforms, but that they do provide a “resilient” method of disseminating information that serves a critical function in emergency management. 

In the news this week:

State CIOs are focusing on shifting financial models and a bubbling interest in generative artificial intelligence in 2023, according to the annual survey by the National Association of State CIOs. The report draws on interviews and survey responses from top IT officials in 49 states, Washington, D.C. and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Kansas has a new IT lead. Gov. Laura Kelly has appointed Jeff Maxon as the state’s chief information technology officer. Maxon had been serving as interim CITO since the departure of DeAngela Burns-Wallace in January. The governor’s office credited Maxon with helping to develop the state’s generative AI policy, which the state unveiled last month.

Broadband providers will be required to display easy-to-understand information about the cost and performance of broadband services both online and in stores by 2024, according to an announcement for the Federal Communications Commission. The announcement follows a yearlong process to introduce the order and then vote to approve it and deploy it to companies across the country.

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Priorities Podcast


Each week, the Priorities Podcast will take you through the latest in state and local government technology news and analysis. The program will explore trending stories throughout the week, as well as feature conversations with top executives across government and industry on things like modernization, emerging technology and digital services.

Hosted by Jake Williams

Jake Williams is the vice president of content and community for StateScoop and EdScoop. He's spent nearly a decade in the government IT market, covering the ins and outs of state and local government, as well as higher education. He started his journalism career in his native Pennsylvania and has also worked as a reporter for Campaigns & Elections magazine.