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Emergency Communication Networks

A Division of the Minnesota Department of Public Safety
Banner image that reads Text to 911. Call if you can, text if you can't. 

The Minnesota Department of Public Safety Emergency Communication Networks division is pleased to announce that Text-to-911 service is now available statewide.Text-to-911 is an alternative option to calling 911 in an emergency. Texting should ONLY be used when individuals are unable to make a voice call.

Individuals who are deaf, deafblind, hard of hearing or speech impaired may use Text-to-911 as a first contact option.

Remember: "Call if you can, text if you can't."

Download the Minnesota Text-to-911 fact sheet

Download the Text-to-911 Statewide Operational Standard

Download the Technical Requirements for PSAP CPE to Interface with NG9-1-1 Network in Deploying Text-to-911

When Should Text-to-911 be Used? ​

  • The reporting party cannot speak while a crime is in progress.
  • The reporting party must remain quiet to stay safe.
  • If speaking may cause harm, such as in a home invasion, domestic violence, or human trafficking situation.
  • If the reporting party encounters a suicidal or agitated person.
  • If peer pressure is strong.
  • If the reporting party is deaf, deafblind, hard of hearing, or has a speech impairment.

How to text 911 graphic showing listing steps the same steps detailed on the web page.How to Text 911

  • Enter the numbers 911 in the "To" field.
  • Text message should include your location and type of emergency.
  • Send the message.
  • Be ready to answer questions and follow instructions.
  • Use simple words.
  • Do not use abbreviations, emojis, pictures or slang. (BRB, IDK, THX, 2day and BTW, for example)
  • Do not text and drive.
It is a crime to text 911 with a false report. If you accidentally send a text to 911, send another text or place a call to let the dispatcher know that there is no emergency.

What Dispatchers Need to Know 

  • Dispatchers prefer to speak with reporting parties whenever possible.  
  • Upon receiving a text, dispatchers will ask if they can call the reporting party.
  • People who are deaf, deafblind, hard of hearing, or have a speech impairment
    should inform the dispatcher right away.  
  • Be ready to give the dispatcher your location.
  • Be ready to describe the type of emergency.

Did You Know?: Challenges and LimitationsText to 911 did you know graphic with information also provided on the web page.

911 dispatchers will process texts with the same priority as voice calls. However, public safety response time may be lengthened due to the time it takes for a text message to be typed and transmitted between a dispatcher and a reporting party. There is no guarantee on the speed of delivery for texts to 911.

  • Location is not as accurate with text as it can be with a call.
  • If customers are outside of Minnesota or along a neighboring border, texts to 911 may not be received by a dispatcher.
  • Texts to 911 will get a bounce back if a customer is roaming.
  • Wireless customers must have mobile phones that are capable of sending text messages.
  • Usual charges will apply to texts made to 911.
  • Texts to 911 have the same 160 character limit as other text messages.
  • Texts to 911 can get out of order or may not be received at all.
  • There is currently no language translation service for texts to 911.

Text-to-911 Implementation

Legacy 911 networks and Public Safety Answering Points (PSAPs) that were originally created to carry and receive voice traffic and a minimal amount of data now must be made ready to support substantial amounts of data, including: text messaging, photos, and video provided by the calling public. The deaf and hard of hearing community prefers text messaging to communicate and are a driving force to implement an IP-enabled, Next Generation 911 (NG911) system.
NG911 technology is a priority initiative for the Minnesota Department of Public Safety Emergency Communication Networks (DPS-ECN) division. In February 2014, all 104 Minnesota 911 Public Safety Answering Points (PSAPs) became connected to the next generation Emergency Services IP Network (ESInet). This infrastructure allows those PSAPs to accept texts.
In 2017, PSAPS in each of the state's seven regions began installing Text-to-911 capable software and hardware. Then, DPS-ECN worked with PSAPS to train dispatchers as well as test the equipment and the Text-to-911 system. The rigorous testing phase verified the delivery and receipt of text messages between PSAPS and a reporting party for all four major wireless carriers across the state. The goal of testing was to ensure a reliable, functional and responsive solution for citizens and responders alike.