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About

What We Do

The Emergency Communication Networks Division oversees the Statewide 911 Program, Allied Radio Matrix for Emergency Response (ARMER) radio communications network, the Interoperability Program, Integrated Public Alert and Warning Systems (IPAWS), and a statewide Wireless Broadband initiative in coordination with FirstNet.

Related Minnesota Laws, Statutes and Rules

Minnesota Statute, Chapter 403

Minnesota Administrative Rules, Chapter 7580

Director

Director Wahlberg Headshot Picture
Dana Wahlberg was appointed director of the Department of Public Safety Emergency Communication Networks (ECN) division in January 2018.

She joined ECN in 2011 as the statewide 911 program manager, providing leadership and direction for the migration of all 104 Minnesota Public Safety Answering Points (PSAPs) from analog legacy 911 network connections to a private Emergency Services Internet Protocol Network (ESInet). Wahlberg also accomplished a statewide deployment of Text-to-911 using a regional approach in 2017.

Prior to ECN, she served in numerous roles during her 22-year tenure at the St. Louis County, Minnesota PSAP in Duluth. 

Wahlberg is a graduate of Brigham Young University, and is a member of the National Emergency Number Association (NENA), the Association of Public Safety Communications Officials (APCO) and the National Association of State 9-1-1 Administrators (NASNA). She has presented at numerous state and national conferences on Minnesota’s early adopter next generation 911 initiatives.


History

The Division of Emergency Communication Networks encompasses five programs and manage two critical public safety communication networks. 

The Statewide 911 Program manages the 911 network, the Allied Radio Matrix for Emergency Response (ARMER) statewide shared radio communications network is managed under the ARMER Program, the Statewide Interoperability Program aims to improve the communications of Minnesota's first responders regardless of the radio systems they have in place, IPAWS is used by state, tribal, and local authorities to send emergency warnings within their jurisdictions, and a Minnesota representative to the national FirstNet program. 


Funding

The Minnesota Statewide 911 Program costs were funded from the state’s general fund until December 1986. In 1987, the state began collecting a 911 service fee on wired telephone lines to pay expenses related to the 911 program. Beginning July 1994, the fee was extended to include wireless telephone lines and today it includes voice over internet protocol (VoIP) providers.

Revenues from the 911 fee are deposited into a special revenue account from which the 911 Program costs are paid. In the 2015–2016 biennium, over $62 million was appropriated for the 911 Special Revenue Account to fund the 911 Program, 911 wireline and wireless carrier cost recovery, and 911 PSAP equipment and proficiency expenses. The special revenue account also provides funding for the east and west medical resource communications centers, debt service on the revenue bonds sold to construct the ARMER system, ARMER backbone maintenance and operation costs, and Minnesota’s inter operability program.

The current 911 fee (as of January 1, 2016) assessed is 95 cents per line.

911

The Minnesota Statewide 911 Program provides immediate access from all telephones to critical public safety services. The 911 Program, which has been administered by the Department of Public Safety since December 2003, coordinates the maintenance of 911 systems and is charged with formulation of concepts, methods and procedures which will improve the operation and maintenance of 911 systems that handle more than two million emergency calls annually. For more information, see the most recent ECN Biennial Report to the Legislature.
  

ARMER

Established in 2004, the Allied Radio Matrix for Emergency Response (ARMER) Program, administered in coordination with the Statewide Radio Board, manages the implementation of the 700/800 megahertz (MHz) shared digital trunked radio communication system. The ARMER back bone is a robust, scalable, state-of-the-art system that will be capable of servicing the radio communications needs of every city, county, state agency, tribal government and non-government public safety entity operating in the state. The ARMER system is the fundamental infrastructure necessary for emergency responders to achieve seamless interoperable communications. For more information, see the most recent ECN Biennial Report to the Legislature.


IPAWS

Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS) was established by Presidential Executive Order 13407 in 2006. IPAWS provides the ability to send immediate warnings to the American people. It ensures the president of the United States can alert and warn the public. It can also be used by state, tribal, and local authorities to send emergency warnings within their jurisdictions. These alerts can come on their cell phones, commercial television, radio stations and cable television as well as other devices. 


Wireless Broadband

In response to the 9/11 Commission Report the U.S. Congress established the Nationwide Public Safety Broadband Network (NPSBN) in 2012.  In 2017, AT&T was awarded the 25 year contract to provide emergency responders with the first nationwide, high-speed, broadband data network dedicated to public safety.  The public private partnership provides the best of commercial service coupled with the country’s finest public safety experts for guidance.  FirstNet will provide public safety a dedicated ‘fast lane’ that is highly secure with specialized features such as priority access, more network capacity, resiliency and a hardened connection.  FirstNet promises to deliver innovation, robust capacity, and quality customer service.  For more information go to firstnet.gov or our Wireless Broadband page.


Interoperability

Interoperability is the ability to communicate, as needed, on demand, and as authorized at all levels of government and across all Public Safety disciplines. In Minnesota, the Interoperability Program is directed and supported by a Statewide Interoperability Coordinator (SWIC), the Statewide Emergency Communications Board (SECB), the seven regional Emergency Communications/Services Boards (ECB/ESB), and the Urban Area Security Initiative Board (UASI).

All 87 Minnesota Counties and a number of cities are participating in regional governance structures which manage interoperability in the State of Minnesota. These legally recognized joint powers boards are made up of elected county commissioners and city council members. The boards’ mission is to fill the interoperability gaps on a regional level and manage local migration to the ARMER system. The Regional Advisory committees and Regional Emergency Communications/Services Boards are the core of Minnesota’s governance structure. Resolving communications interoperability gaps is fundamentally changing how emergency services are delivered across Minnesota.