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Emergency Communication Networks

A Division of the Minnesota Department of Public Safety


Minnesota's first citywide 911 systems were installed by Windom and St. James cities during 1968 and Jackson County installed the first countywide 911 system in 1973. Since then technical developments in the late '70s and early '80s resulted in a refinement called Enhanced 911 provides the selective routing of calls and automatic display of the 911 caller's telephone number and location.

Enhanced 911 - Auto-Capture of Caller's Telephone Number and Location

The Enhanced 911 system automatically captures the caller's telephone number, cross references the number to a location, and accommodates multi-jurisdiction areas by routing 911 calls to the appropriate agency for that location and displays the caller location to the 911 call taker.

This new technology was demonstrated in Oakland, California, and Orange County, Florida, and further refined and implemented December 1982 in seven counties as the Metropolitan Enhanced 911 system which is nationally recognized as the first multi-county 911 system. The initial metropolitan E911 system covered Anoka, Carver, Dakota, Hennepin, Ramsey, Scott and Washington counties and  in the past two years increased to nine counties with the addition of  Isanti County and Chisago County.

Statewide Implementation

Minnesota Statutes Chapter 403 was passed in 1977 and required all counties to implement 911 by the end of 1986. The Telecommunications Division of the Department of Administration provided planning, help and encouragement to the counties. The statewide 911 law defined the role of the Department of Administration to complete this project and included the cooperation and assistance of the Metropolitan Council (the Metropolitan 911 Board and currently named the Metropolitan Emergency Services Board).  

The law required each county to develop a plan to implement 911, implementation by December 15, 1982, in the seven-county metropolitan area, and by December 15, 1986 in the remaining counties. The 911 law also created a commission to determine an equitable method of paying for 911 in Minnesota which and resulted in funding being added to the 911 law in 1978.

Funding for Implementation

The statewide 911 law spread recurring costs to implement 911 across the state and made it possible to provide at least basic 911 to all Minnesotans, even those who are located in remote areas or rural counties. 

From May 1977 to December 1986, the state's general fund paid the costs to modify the remaining telephone central offices from to develop 911 and also paid the monthly recurring costs of the network and features. In addition, the local government funds were supplemented by grants from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to use for network and feature installation costs and costs for their Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP) equipment. The centralized funding for these costs made 911 affordable to rural Minnesota.

Service Fee Helps Less-Populated Counties Purchase and Upgrade Equipment

The costs to purchase or lease 911 equipment and the 911 database development were not covered in the original funding and resulted in larger populated counties being able to install enhanced 911 systems but the funding only allowed less populated county budgets to install basic 911 systems. In 1994, Chapter 616 of Minnesota laws modified the 911 law and added the enhanced 911 service fee that has been distributed since March 1995 to the counties and other government 911 centers to help fund the implementation, improvement and maintenance of their enhanced 911 systems. 

The additional funding distributed to local government helped them upgrade their basic 911 system to enhanced 911 systems and today all Minnesota counties operate enhanced 911 systems. The law change that year also extended the 911 fee to include subscribers of all communications carriers whose services are capable of originating a 911 call and resulted in 911 fees collected from wireless subscribers and funded the expansion of the statewide enhanced 911 system to include wireless 911 calls answered with the enhanced features. 

In 2005, 911 fee collection from packet-based telecommunications providers were added to the 911 law. 

911 Program Changes Hands

The 2003 First Special Session further changed Minnesota Statutes Chapter 403 and moved the responsibility of the 911 statewide program responsibilities from the commissioner of Administration to the commissioner of Public Safety beginning January 2004.

Minnesota 911 Statutes 403.01 to 403.36

Minnesota 911 Code of Administrative Rules 7580