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Voices of First Responders—Nationwide Public Safety Communication Survey Findings: Day to Day Technology, Phase 2, Volume 3



Shanee Dawkins, Kerrianne Buchanan, Sandra Spickard Prettyman


The Nationwide Public Safety Broadband Network (NPSBN) is being developed to provide a dedicated network for first responders' use during incident response. A wave of new communication technologies compatible with the NPSBN is on the horizon, as major research and development efforts for these technologies are ongoing. The aim of the NIST PSCR Usability Team is to gain a better understanding of the usability of communication technology for first responders, by investigating the contexts in which they work, their experiences with incident response, and their problems with and needs for communication technology. To this end, NIST's PSCR Usability Team conducted an exploratory, sequential, mixed-methods study to gather insights into the experiences and needs of first responders. The multi-phase study included in-depth interviews with 193 first responders, followed by a nationwide survey of 7 182 first responders. This report is the third of the series of volumes on Phase 2, presenting survey results related to first responder experiences with their day-to-day devices: frequency of use of these devices, useful rankings of the devices, and problems experienced with them. Four overarching themes that have implications for R&D of first responder communication technology are presented in this report, reinforcing the six user-centered design guidelines identified in the Phase 1, Volume 1 report. These themes and guidelines can aid researchers, designers, and developers in the public safety domain in attending to those issues that are most important to first responders.
NIST Interagency/Internal Report (NISTIR) - 8400
Report Number


First responders, Communication technology, Public safety communication research, Survey research, Usability, User-centered design, User needs and requirements


Dawkins, S. , Buchanan, K. and Spickard Prettyman, S. (2021), Voices of First Responders—Nationwide Public Safety Communication Survey Findings: Day to Day Technology, Phase 2, Volume 3, NIST Interagency/Internal Report (NISTIR), National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg, MD, [online],, (Accessed May 20, 2024)


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Created October 15, 2021, Updated November 29, 2022