Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Tribute to 9-11: Packing Parachutes for Public Safety (why I blog about the Public Safety Broadband Network)

In reflection of 9-11 I wanted to share why I do what I do. A lot of people ask why I post to this blog and specifically to the tune of Public Safety. It’s simple, this is my way of supporting those that died during the attacks on the World Trade Center in New York, the Pentagon in Washington DC and Flight 93 in Shanksville, Pennsylvania.

I have spent more than 20 years in the telecommunications industry and 10 years prior in the Armed Forces. Had I not had a change of a meeting scheduled that day I’m convinced my Dad and I would have perished in Building 1 (North Tower). We had plans to eat breakfast that morning at the “Windows of the World” on top of Tower 1. Nobody above the 91st floor survived. In tribute to what transpired I felt a need to dedicate myself, like many others, to finding a way to help our great Nation anyway I could. At that point in my life the only thing I had was my ability and passion for the telecommunications. Like many others I could not predict what path was set for me that day.

Business Card for South Tower
Following the disaster I was given the chance to take over an oversight role as Project Manager for MTA’s SONET ATM project assigned to Washington Group International (WGI). WGI’s main offices were located on the 91st Floor of Tower 2 (South Tower).

WGI lost twelve souls that terrible day and a majority of them were on this project I just took over. It was an honor to be called upon and to do what I could to repair the damage and restore moral.

My Dad was the General Manager for the New York City Office for WGI and ran their operations from there. The change in my schedule saved his life as well by allowing him to divert his schedule to the Princeton Office that day. He, like myself, has a passion of riding his Harley, so when my schedule changed, it gave him a chance to ride to the Princeton Office instead. I remember the toll it took on my father having to go to all those funerals. I know he had to deal with some sort of posttraumatic stress that fostered an overwhelming amount of guilt whenever the topic came up. I know it shaped me forever as well.

In my effort to do something that could help our efforts, and to get back at those that perpetrated such evil acts, this PM job was a start. The scope of this job was to install the cities new fiber optic backbone that would eventually connect, not just the transit system itself, but also the cities First Responders. What better thing to do than to use all my experience and knowledge to help make this network a possibility…. so I began the process of “packing parachutes”. (Cpt. Charles Plumb, USN Ret and Viet Nam POW)

As the PM I was in constant meetings trying to provide insight and direction in getting the complex communications solution off the ground. This network was going to be the backbone for one of the most advanced communications solutions in Manhattan and in direct support of First Responders…. the same First Responders who lost 342 brothers and sisters in the terrorist attack. In fighting through all the chaos I found the entire process of building large-scale communications deficient in many ways. This gave me the idea to culminate all my experience into one thing I could do that would help the entire system. In 2003 I dedicated myself to a doctoral program addressing the topic of advancing telecommunications in a manner that can be successfully managed and deployed. I would go on to publish my dissertation in 2009 and was accepted into the academy of professionals as the sole expert on the topic of advancing telecommunications using Public Private Partnerships. Until someone expands on my topic I remain the expert to this day.
My experience gained from my work for the MTA became the case study to validate my assertions and theory.  With the passage of the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012 (“Public Safety Spectrum Act” or “Act”), governing the deployment of a nationwide public safety broadband network in the 700 MHz band, became a validation to my theory. As part of this legislation it states the use of Public Private Partnerships (P3) as a necessary tool to help fund the deployment, and self-sustainment, of this great national asset. Given that there has never been a successful P3 for telecommunications in the United States lends credibility to my dissertation and, thus, personal satisfaction that I am contributing to something greater than myself. Even if not assigned to the very top, and leading the charge, at least I now know that my theory of Public Private Partnerships is taking hold and I must offer my expertise to those that are appointed…thus the term “packing parachutes”. I can help pack parachutes for those high-flying appointees hoping that if, and when, the time comes that parachute will save their lives. Now we just need to make it happen.
In going back to all those chaotic meetings at the MTA, I would have to recommend that clarity at the very top, and unwavering support from all the members of the FirstNet Board, will be essential to its success. So, in preparation, I submit myself to the cause of making this network a reality and I hope others will follow…in fact I know others do the same already. It’s time to start packing your own parachutes.

Just some guy and a blog…

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Words to Live By: “Here’s to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs in the square holes… The ones who see things differently — they’re not fond of rules… You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them, but the only thing you can’t do is ignore them because they change things… They push the human race forward, and while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius, because the ones who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world, are the ones who do.” (Steve Jobs)