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Voices of First Responders – Identifying Public Safety Communication Problems: Findings from User-Centered Interviews, Phase 1, Volume 1



Yee-Yin Choong, Shanee T. Dawkins, Susanne M. Furman, Kristen Greene, Sandra S. Prettyman, Mary F. Theofanos


The public safety community is in the process of transitioning from the use of land mobile radios to a technology ecosystem including a variety of broadband data sharing platforms. Successful deployment and adoption of new communication technology relies on efficient and effective user interfaces based on a clear understanding of first responder needs, requirements and contexts of use. The project employs a two-phased data collection approach for an in-depth look at the population of first responders, along with their work environment, their tasks, and their communication needs. This report documents the data collection of Phase 1 and the first iteration of data analysis. Phase 1, the qualitative component, focuses on interviews with approximately 240 first responders (law enforcement, fire fighters, emergency medical services, communications/dispatch) across the country. Results include: approximately 90 user needs and requirements expressed by first responders; five categories of technology opportunities; six principles for technology development; and the role of trust in usage of communication technology. The Voices of First Responders series includes the following publications: NISTIR 8245: Phase 1, Volume 2.1–Examining Public Safety Communication Problems and Requested Functionality: Findings from User-Centered Interviews; NISTIR 8277: Phase 1, Volume 3–Examining Public Safety Communication from the Rural Perspective: Findings from User-Centered Interviews; NISTIR 8295: Phase 1, Volume 4–Examining Public Safety Communication from the Perspective of 9-1-1 Call Takers and Dispatchers: Findings from User-Centered Interviews; and NISTIR 8288: Phase 2, Volume 1–Nationwide Public Safety Communication Survey Methodology: Development, Dissemination, and Demographics.
NIST Interagency/Internal Report (NISTIR) - 8216
Report Number


Choong, Y. , Dawkins, S. , Furman, S. , Greene, K. , Prettyman, S. and Theofanos, M. (2018), Voices of First Responders – Identifying Public Safety Communication Problems: Findings from User-Centered Interviews, Phase 1, Volume 1, NIST Interagency/Internal Report (NISTIR), National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg, MD, [online], (Accessed June 24, 2024)


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Created July 30, 2018, Updated August 19, 2020