Quick, text that photo to 911

Published 9:55am Friday, December 28, 2012

Minnesota hopes to make that possible locally by the end of next year

By the end of 2013, Freeborn County residents should be able to send text messages, photos and videos to dispatchers via 911.

The county is migrating toward the Next Generation 911 system, which the state is implementing to keep pace with changing technology.

The county is one of 104 public safety answering points — or dispatch call centers — across the state making the change. Thus far, 20 have fully migrated, according to a news release.

Julie Anderson with the Minnesota Department of Public Safety said the system is being implemented at no cost to the county. The state is paying both the non-recurring and the recurring charges for the network, and a grant will be used to reimburse call centers for costs incurred while preparing their equipment rooms to accept the new technology. The Department of Public Safety division of emergency communications network operates exclusively on the 911 fees submitted by carriers who collect them from their subscribers.

“Minnesota has historically been at the forefront of implementing the latest 911 technologies,” said Dana Wahlberg, 911 program manager, in a news release. “For decades the 911 system has provided a reliable network for routing and answering 911 calls. Now the system has reached its limit and must be upgraded to meet the expectations of Minnesotans who have smartphones or other advanced electronic devices.”

Anderson said the first phase of the project was implemented in September of 2010, which tested the interoperability between the 911 providers. The system was fully implemented and tested at Carver and Kandiyohi counties in the second phase, and in the third phase, the remaining counties are migrating to the system.

The Next Generation 911 system is one of several initiatives the emergency communications network division is implementing to enhance public safety.

It is also assisting counties with transitioning to the Allied Radio Matrix for Emergency Response system statewide, which helps responders better communicate with each other during an emergency or disaster.

The news release stated the new 911 system will help dispatchers and emergency responders provide help to residents more efficiently.