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Emergency Communication Networks

A Division of the Minnesota Department of Public Safety

What's New?

First of 23 FirstNet Cell Towers Installed in Minnesota

​The next time you take a trip to Itasca State Park, you can take comfort in knowing that public safety officials in that area have a dedicated wireless broadband network to respond to emergency calls. That means, first responders no longer have to compete with the public to exchange information and data.

FirstNet recently installed the cell tower in Zerkel—just to the east of the White Earth Reservation. Prior to the installation of this tower, broadband coverage in that area was scarce. The tower will give public safety—such as law enforcement, fire and EMS—reliable and dedicated wireless broadband coverage. This is the first of 23 cell sites that will be installed across the state to build the dedicated wireless broadband network for Minnesota’s first responders. FirstNet aims to install the remaining towers over the next year.

Learn how ECN is helping to shape this new dedicated wireless broadband service for public safety.
Click here to learn more about FirstNet.

International Radio Test Between Minnesota and Ontario

Minnesota Ontario ARMER Interoperability Test

Minnesota continues to lead the way in public safety communications after Koochiching County and Ontario conducted a first-ever cross-border test of the land mobile radio system known as ARMER (Allied Radio Matrix for Emergency Response). The test was part of a larger international emergency interoperability exercise held earlier this month.

How did it work? Exercise participants created a “patch” (or a connection) between Minnesota’s system and Ontario’s Public Safety Network. Once the patch was stable, both U.S. and Canadian dispatch centers and first responder agencies tested the communication pathway. This was made possible with a newly designed patch that allowed the connection between separate frequencies on the two radio networks.

Koochiching County Emergency Management Coordinator Willi Kostiuk says, “The ability to communicate with our resource partners in the Fort Frances, Ontario area when a disaster strikes is the key to a successful and unified response…and may ultimately save lives.” Learn more about the ARMER system, which is managed by ECN.

CenturyLink and West Safety Services Fined for 911 Outage

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has fined the two service providers who were responsible for the August 1, 2018 outage of Minnesota’s 911 system. The recent settlement says that CenturyLink and West Safety Communications violated FCC rules when the human error caused the outage.

CenturyLink has agreed to pay $400,000 and West has agreed to pay $175,000 to the U.S. Treasury. The companies are also working together and with ECN (which manages the state’s 911 system) to create plans that will:

  • Identify risks of 911 service disruptions.
  • Protect against those risks.
  • Ensure detection of outages.
  • Prepare to respond effectively to outages.
  • Restore services as quickly as possible.

Both companies are required to report to the FCC on those compliance efforts for the next three years. This work mirrors a Minnesota Public Utilities Commission order in June which directed CenturyLink to follow recommendations laid out by ECN and the Minnesota Department of Commerce.

Faster Help is Better Help

GIS Project Image
During an emergency, it’s hard to think straight. When you call or text for help, the 911 dispatcher will want to know where you are, but unless you happen to be at home, your hurt and frightened brain may not be able to pull that information out of thin air.

Enter the Next Generation 911 Geographic Information Systems (GIS) project. Its goal is to improve location accuracy for 911 dispatchers, allowing first responders to get to the scene more quickly in Minnesota.

Learn about the steps it will take to get there in our latest DPS blog.


Featured Video

Video Description: Call if you can, text if you can't. Learn about Text-to-911.