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Minneapolis has a new system for residents, workers and visitors to get alerts during emergencies, ranging from natural disasters to human-caused dangers.

The new system can be accessed from any device capable of texting, or from a smartphone via an app, or both. Here's how to do it:

  • Text MPLSAlerts to 77295
  • Download the Smart911 app

Both methods require users to set up an account, including an address such as your home or office, to receive alerts. Users of the existing system, Swiftreach, will automatically be subscribed to Smart911, but creating a Smart911 profile will allow them to take advantage of features of the new system, officials said.

City leaders rolled out the new system as they announced a capstone in years of changes following the unrest, including protests, riots and police violence, that engulfed the city after the murder of George Floyd by a police officer in May 2020.

Flanked by the city's most senior staff, Mayor Jacob Frey held a news conference Tuesday to announce the city had completed all 27 items recommended in a report analyzing the city's response, including numerous failings.

Frey said dozens of exercises and courses totaling hundreds of man-hours have improved the city's ability to respond to emergencies with clear communications — internally and to the public — and a unified command system that leaves little doubt as to who's in charge of what.

The final step was completed last week, when some 70 city employees, as well as several state and Hennepin County staffers, spent four days in Maryland on the campus of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, culminating in a one-day simulation of a citywide emergency Frey would describe only as "civil unrest."

The message was clear from Frey and his top appointed brass, including Public Safety Commissioner Todd Burnette, Police Chief Brian O'Hara and Fire Chief Bryan Tyner.

"The next time that some form of emergency strikes, we are prepared, in full," Frey said, pledging that new processes and lessons learned can be handed off to successors as well. "You start to get the sensation that right now the city of Minneapolis is more prepared for an emergency than we have ever been at any time in our history."