FirstNet Launches Tumblr, Seeking Stories of Public Safety Broadband Use

Mar 17, 2016

FirstNet is a relatively new “startup” federal government agency with the mission of building, operating and maintaining a broadband network for the millions of first responders in the 56 states, territories and Washington D.C. Given the nature of our mission, we are always looking for new avenues to connect with our nation’s courageous law enforcement, fire service and EMS personnel who put their lives on the line everyday to make our communities safer and educate them about the FirstNet network. While we have a content-rich website and social media presence to help “get the word out,” we also see the incredible value in the blogging platform that some call “the anti-blog” because of it’s ‘against the grain’ approach to building readership.

Screen capture of A Day in the Life tumblr

What’s great about Tumblr is its versatility; gone are the days where a blog was just a few paragraphs of text with an image or two. With Tumblr, you have the ability to take your blog to the next level—posting GIFs, audio, embedding an Instagram post, even a simple yet impactful quote that gets the message across. Of course you can do the traditional text post, or link to a video or other site, but you can do that all in a customizable, unique space to call your own. And you can embed the entire platform on your agency or organization’s website.

Recently, the communications team here at FirstNet reached out to Tumblr to share with them the idea of a new blog titled, “A Day in the Life: Stories of Broadband Saving Lives and Protecting Communities” and had a nice convo with the NYC-based team at Tumblr, who shared several tips and interesting stats, including three that struck us:

  1. Videos are highly engaging
  2. 66% mobile viewers
  3. 95% of content is read through shares

How do we at FirstNet stack up against those stats?

  1. Well, we create a lot of video content—so this will be another way to share that content (breaking up three minute videos into multiple GIFs, etc.).
  2. The pure goal of our mission as an agency is to put mobile technology in the hands of first responders—so our content MUST be mobile-friendly.
  3. A huge reason for us to be on Tumblr is the ability to pull in a larger audience. We average about 50,000 visits to our website each month. While that’s decent for a federal government website that’s just two years old, there are 60,000 public safety agencies in the country, and millions of public safety personnel. Many who have never even heard of FirstNet.
<span style="line-height: 1.5">Not to mention the general public—most of you reading this post. Public safety affects everyone&#8217;s life in some way or another. Your local volunteer fire department is made of people who live in your community, and spend a tremendous amount of time serving your community. I&#8217;m sure you&#8217;d be interested in knowing that they are being provided the latest and greatest tools in their hands to keep you safe.</span>
Screen capture of My Public Lands tumblr.

Opening a Tumblr account is not a revolutionary concept for a government entity. In fact, several government agencies have had a lot of success with the platform, such as the picturesque Department of Interior’s “My Public Lands” or the Office of the Director of National Intelligence’s “IC on the Record” which takes back the “veil” of an intel agency, and treads new waters with “Tumblr Answer Time”—a live Q&A with the Director of the agency.

Screen capture of Office of the Director of National Intelligence tumblr

Some local public safety agencies are using the platform as well, such as the Cape Coral Police Department (Florida) and the Drayton Fire Department (South Carolina).

And that’s who FirstNet is looking to engage with. Local, tribal, federal and state public safety agencies and practitioners—these will be the end users of the nationwide public safety broadband network, should their agency choose to go with the network as their broadband service provider.


With the new blog, we’re looking forward to telling the stories of first responders from all parts of the country. Today, many law enforcement, firefighters and emergency medical service personnel are all using broadband in some capacity to do their jobs.

Agencies like the Niagara County Sheriff’s Office—featured in the video below talking about how the FirstNet network could have assisted with a 2014 snowstorm—who are currently using a variety of public safety applications connected to commercial networks to assist in day-to-day operations. Apps are providing them with real-time detention center information with mug shots, charges and other offender information, as well as real-time crime mapping.


Or the Wheaton Volunteer Fire Department (Maryland) who use personal devices to map directions to the scene, look up a patient’s medications to get a medical history and check the status of local hospitals.

Composite of 6 images of people and equipment from the Wheaton Volunteer Fire Department

There are many more use cases are out there, some where broadband is more heavily used than others, but all focused on saving lives and property in our communities. And we want to tell those stories in compelling ways through video, photo, audio, etc.—it’s all on the table, and we hope you enjoy these accounts.

Do you have a story of broadband use at your public safety agency that you’d like to share?

Are you on Tumblr? Have comments/suggestions as we launch Tumblr?