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Voices of First Responders -- Nationwide Public Safety Communication Survey Findings: Statistical Analysis Results Phase 2, Volume 4



Adam L. Pintar, Kerrianne Buchanan, Yee-Yin Choong


Public safety is in the midst of a major transition in the communication technology that they use due to the ongoing development and deployment of the Nationwide Public Safety Broadband Network (NPSBN). Once established, the NPSBN will provide dedicated broadband to first responders. Having a dedicated network will allow first responders to leverage technology in performing their jobs safely, effectively, and efficiently. To fully recognize the benefits of having such a network, there has been many efforts to improve and create communication technology for first responders to work with this network. NIST's PSCR Usability team has been contributing to this effort by conducting a multi-year, mixed methods study to examine first responders' experiences with, problems with and needs of communication technology. The study consisted of two phases: in Phase 1, 193 first responders were interviewed, and in Phase 2, 7 182 first responders completed a survey of their communication technology experiences. Results of these efforts have been extensively reported on and are publicly available in eight reports. This report provides an in-depth statistical analysis of the survey data by exploring if and how communication technology problems and needs differ depending on the characteristics of the first responders. Specially, we examined differences by area (rural v. urban/suburban), role (frontline responders v. supervising responder, v. chief/management), and career v. volunteer status for fire service personnel. Two key themes emerged. First, we found that rural and volunteer first responders lack some devices and applications/software that their urban/suburban and career counterparts have, and they experience problems with the price of several devices. Second, we found that chief/management roles have different communication technology problems and needs from frontline first responders. Specifically, they tend to more often use devices and applications/software for coordination and managerial purposes and are very aware of the price of devices. This report provides a rich data and rigorous analysis for researchers, developers, and designers to use to inform their work in developing communication technology for first responders. We also describe how these findings relate to the user-centered guidelines published in previous reports.
NIST Interagency/Internal Report (NISTIR) - 8444
Report Number


Communication technology, First responders, Human Factors and Ergonomics, Public safety communications research, Usability, Human-centered design, User needs and requirements, statistical leaning, natural language processing, Bayesian methods


Pintar, A. , Buchanan, K. and Choong, Y. (2022), Voices of First Responders -- Nationwide Public Safety Communication Survey Findings: Statistical Analysis Results Phase 2, Volume 4, NIST Interagency/Internal Report (NISTIR), National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg, MD, [online],, (Accessed May 22, 2024)


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Created November 21, 2022, Updated November 29, 2022