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Mapping out FirstNet in Minnesota

While planning continues for a dedicated wireless broadband network in Minnesota, a new map is showing how FirstNet will roll out for first responders across the state. The goal is to make it available statewide based on capacity and coverage needs in five phases. This means Minnesota’s metro areas, along with our state highways and interstates will be the first locations to have access to the network—making emergency response more efficient and effective.

The proposed build-out map is currently under consideration, but may be accessed here.


Minnesota Recognized for strides made with NextGen 911

911 dispatch operator at console

​While the overhaul of 911 systems continues across the nation, Minnesota is receiving recognition for the progress it has made with the Next Generation 911 (NG911) backbone. Work began in 2009 using E911 funds and, five years later, the internet protocol based structure went live. The backbone serves as the framework to support future technological functions such as Text-to-911 which will include multimedia messaging.

Dana Wahlberg, 911 Program Manager with Emergency Communication Networks, recently shared Minnesota’s achievements with NG911. Read the Emergency Management Magazine article here.


A superhighway with life-saving capabilities

We all know what it’s like to drive down a highway. Now imagine the highway as the internet. Imagine you’re speeding along at 55 miles-per-hour when an emergency happens. The FirstNet wireless broadband network would give first responders first priority to the internet when there is a threat to public safety. Right now, staff members with Minnesota’s Emergency Communication Networks along with our partners in FEMA Region V are coming up with a framework of service for FirstNet. They are considering things like first responder roles, scope of emergencies and types of use. Read more about a FirstNet framework on our Department of Public Safety blog.

Communicating during a Full Scale Exercise

ARMER at Stevens County Full Scale Exercise

Part of responding to an emergency includes communicating important details between responding agencies while in the field. That is where Minnesota’s ARMER system (Allied Radio Matrix for Emergency Response) comes into play.

Many people are familiar with the radios that first responders carry. Those radios and their communication system were recently put to the test during a drill that simulated an oil train derailment in Stevens County. Emergency Communication Networks and its partners practiced setting up a trailer-mounted radio tower which allowed  more than 450 participants to send and receive important messages. The Emergency Communication Networks and Homeland Security and Emergency Management divisions will use lessons learned from this exercise to plan and prepare for a real emergency.