Investigation into multi-state 911 outage

Published 6:50 am Saturday, October 3, 2020

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ST. PAUL — The Minnesota Department of Public Safety Emergency Communication Networks division (DPS-ECN) is in contact with the state’s contracted 911 service provider, CenturyLink, to determine the cause behind a multi-state 911 outage on Sept. 28.

According to CenturyLink’s preliminary review, 135 calls to 24 Minnesota public safety answering points (PSAPs) failed to be routed during the 48-minute disruption. In its own preliminary review, DPS-ECN believes the outage was longer and that a number of 911 calls that failed to be routed were not included in the list.

While the reason for the outage is still under investigation, CenturyLink says the problem originated on a partnering vendor’s platform when an internal networking component failed to correctly forward traffic. CenturyLink has said that the vendor is conducting an investigation of its own.

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DPS-ECN will continue its work to determine the extent and reason of the outage.

Minnesota was among several states that reported a disruption to its 911 network. Other states include Arizona, Colorado, North Carolina, North Dakota, South Dakota and Utah.

Minnesota’s 102 dispatch centers statewide have received an average of 58,884 calls per week during the COVID-19 pandemic (March through September). DPS-ECN oversees the 911 program and is committed to ensuring that it remains a dependable method to call for help in an emergency.

“Simply put, calling 911 saves lives,” said DPS-ECN Director Dana Wahlberg. “This is why Emergency Communication Networks has made it a priority to maintain a dependable, state-of-the-art 911 system in Minnesota. Alternate, 10-digit numbers for dispatch centers should only be used in the event of an outage.”

Minnesotans are encouraged to look up the 24-hour emergency number to their county’s 911 dispatch center. DPS-ECN recommends saving the number in your cell phone or writing it down and placing it next to your landline.

In the event of a 911 outage, Mower County residents in need of assistance can call the Mower County Law Enforcement Center at 507-437-9400.