b'Heres how it generally works: A vendor would come to me and say, Ive built this tool, it does 70-80 percent of what your agency needs, Patterson explained. They would tell me what customization was possible, which would typically be very expensive. In some cases, it couldnt be customized. And in the instance where we purchased a solution, our personnel still often needed to find workarounds to get the mission done.By building out a platform with capabilities defined by the public safety community, FirstNet delivers a network ready to work for the communitys unique needs. For example, the operational requirements for license plate readers on the U.S. border, video storage in Ohio and live helicopter video in an emergency situation might seem different when viewed separately. But they all represent a similar connectivity challenge, which can be addressed via the FirstNet platform.FirstNet also addresses the serious interoperability challenges for public safety communications. There are two main ways FirstNet provides interoperability:Interoperability with existing Land Mobile Radio networksFirstNet allows a smartphone to act as an LMR portable, and allows for LMR communications over LTE.Cross-agency communicationsFirstNet becomes a common communications platform to connect first responders across federal, state, local, military, and more.Every day, we worked with state and local counterparts at the DEA, and you always hoped you had enough portables, Patterson said. If not, we had to set up some type of an ad-hoc relay chain, which was very inefficient and inevitably people would not have a complete picture of what was happening. We tend to focus on interop during a crisis, but its needed all other times as well. We have had a critical need for better functionality in the day to day mission, and a proven reliability when it comes to the crisis.6'