“Technology is solely meant to make human life better, and what better use for it than securing the safety of women?” stated Ravi Shankar Prasad, Minister of Communications and Information Technology, soon after he signed the order directing the inclusion of panic buttons in all mobile phones from 2017. In a bid to improve India’s emergency assistance services, Prasad has now approved the provision of a 911-like single emergency number system as followed in the US for all services in India--112. 112 will be operational as the central emergency contact number throughout the country from January 1,2017, stated a senior government official speaking to PTI.
An application regarding the approval for 112 was drafted in March awaiting the Minister’s agreement, now with approval the new helpline will be up and running from January 2017 and will provide access to callers to all services--police (100), fire brigade(101), ambulance (102) and disaster management (108)--which currently have separate contact numbers.
“Telecom operators have been asked to direct all emergency calls to 112. The process to direct calls made on to 112 to concerned departments is being worked out,” a senior government official stated to PTI. When 112 is fully-functional, the individual numbers of the various departments will serve as secondary contact methods, and once citizens of the country are aware of the single helpline facility through planned awareness campaigns, it is said that the secondary numbers will be suspended.
People will be able to access the service through landlines and via SMS as well, the text message will be processed and the system will pick up on the person’s location and share it with the closest help centre. As reported by the Times of India, the helpline will be supported through a facility similar to a call centre with respondents speaking in Hindi, English and the regions local language.
“At present, there are call centres which handle emergency number calls. They will be asked to handle calls on 112 as well,” the government official stated, further adding that requests have been made for the required additional people which is being worked out and will be ready next year.