(TNS) -- AUSTIN -- State officials announced Tuesday that Texas will opt-in to a new nationwide broadband network designed to boost the communication abilities of first responders, a move that will help with response to future disasters like Hurricane Harvey.
In announcing that Texas will partner with AT&T and FirstNet Network, the national network created by Congress in 2012, Gov. Greg Abbott said first responders in Texas will be provided with modernized devices, apps and tools "to boost their communication abilities on the job."
The plan will improve public safety and enhance emergency preparedness across the state by providing first responders with cutting edge communication technologies, Abbott said.
Texas becomes the latest state to opt in to the FirstNet network.
"As we saw in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, our first responders are often the last and only hope for safety in rapidly-changing and life-threatening situations, but this partnership with FirstNet and AT&T, allows Texas's fire, police, EMS and other public safety personnel to be better equipped when responding in these emergencies," Abbott said in a statement.
State officials said the decision to join the network will connect first responder subscribers to the critical information they need in a highly secure manner when handling day-to-day operations, responding to emergencies and supporting large events, like the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo, which hosts over 2 million visitors each year.
In addition, it will strengthen emergency response communications "for public safety personnel in agencies and jurisdictions across the state to support the preparation and response to natural disasters such as the recent and ongoing response to Hurricane Harvey."
It will also enhance network coverage across Texas's topographically diverse landscape, and allow for new public safety apps, use of specialized devices and allow for possible integration with future NextGen 9-1-1 networks and Smart Cities' infrastructure, according to officials.
Abbott said it will leverage investment and innovation in the Texas Early Builder Program in Harris County "to solidify their participation as a thought leader in the development of not only technology, but the service solutions that are intuitive and meet the expectations of the public safety community."
©2017 the Houston Chronicle Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.