U.S. Cellular highlights programs designed to bolster emergency response at commission meeting

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U.S. Cellular business account sales executive Ashleigh Raeder discusses programs she said could aid emergency response in the county at Thursday's commission meeting.

BUCKHANNON – A representative from U.S. Cellular on Thursday presented several programs to Upshur County Commissioners the company says could benefit emergency response in the county.

U.S. Cellular business account sales executive Ashleigh Raeder described several programs she thought the commission would be interested in, including plans that have data priority for first responders and a program called Smart City.

“We offer data priority and it’s not something that you have on your account currently, which is what I really want to present,” Raeder said. “It offers high quality service with data priority in our dedicated core network, so if you haven’t heard of FirstNet, they have a specific band available for first responders to be able to make calls and have priority because they’re the only ones available for that.”

“With us, you have data priority on our current network,” Raeder added, “so, what that means is that in the event that there’s an overload in the system, because a lot of people were making calls, usually in a traumatic event, or some kind of disasters going on, any first responder that has data priority, will go to the top of the list.”

She also mentioned that they offer a “truly unlimited plan” for first responders and routers for their vehicles.

“Data priority services gives you access to mission-critical data,” Raeder said. “During times of peak cycle of data usage, the first responder LTE data gets pushed to the front line, so even if networks are crowded, you can share data when they need to provide their best response and during high traffic, public events or emergencies, lower priority data can be temporarily located so your first responder team always stays connected.”

She said their idea for Smart Cities included having wireless internet throughout a town or city.

“There’s a lot of different options that we’re able to utilize for Smart Cities,” Raeder said. “We’ve actually already started with Wisconsin to create a Smart City there, and so we’re looking for some additional areas. I would be interested in having a team of people come in and just teach you and talk to you a little bit about what Smart City could mean for you.”

Commission president Sam Nolte said he thought discussing the Smart City Program with the Buckhannon City Council would be appropriate.

Raeder also talked about 24/7 national network monitoring and disaster recovery.

“With the floods down south, U.S. Cellular took a really proactive approach to that to make sure we set up tents, we had a generators, we had battery backup, so not only did we make sure the first responders were able to have devices charged, but also the community that we serve down there,” Raeder said.

She also mentioned U.S. Cellular’s ability to set up a private static IP network.

“We can also protect the information that’s going to and from devices,” Raeder said. “Obviously, you deal with some very sensitive information, so we want to offer you a service to make sure you have that information protected, so we can offer a private static IP, where devices can be accessed outside of the network, and a static address makes it easier to identify and communicate with different devices.”

Raeder said they would set up a future meeting to discuss the commission’s account.