New 911 system in Minn. adapts to prevalence of smartphones


MINNEAPOLIS - All emergency call centers across Minnesota have switched over to the Next Generation 911 network, otherwise known as NG911, reports CBS Minnesota.

NG911, which was first implemented in the state in Carver County in November 2011, will reportedly help call centers handle data transmitted from smartphones.

"The current system is working just fine," Dana Wahlberg, Minnesota's 911 program manager, told the station. "But, it's been in place since the mid-1960s, when everybody used a land line."

Wahlberg says that to this day many people in Minnesota still think they can text to 911, but unfortunately they can't.

Last June, the Minnesota Department of Public Safety announced AT&T, Verizon, Sprint and T-Mobile had committed to sending an automated reply instructing would-be message senders to make a voice call. The message reads: "Make a voice call to 911 for help. Text to 911 is not available."

"This is a network that is going to be robust enough to manage data as well as voice," Wahlberg said of the new system.

Eventually, NG911 will give dispatchers the ability to not only exchange text messages but photos and videos with callers, CBS Minnesota reports.

The benefits of the new system in Minnesota are already noticeable, according to the station.

"Many of our call centers have commented on improved clarity in the quality of the voice," Wahlberg said.

Call centers also report getting calls six to seven seconds faster.