Trial of panic button feature on phones to start form 26 January, to be first tested in UP

Once a user presses the panic button five calls will be made to emergency number 112, which is being integrated with emergency number 100.

A trial of the panic button feature on mobile phones to ensure safety of women will begin in Uttar Pradesh from 26 January, Union minister Maneka Gandhi said on 2 January.

Representational image. Wikimedia Commons

Representational image. Wikimedia Commons

In April 2016, the Department of Telecommunications, through a gazette notification, made it mandatory for mobile phone manufacturers to provide panic buttons in cell phones by January 2017.

The order said the phones will have to have the panic button in the form of numeric key 5 or 9 to invoke emergency calls. Smart phones without the facility of an emergency call, too, will have to have the same provision, or allow use of power on or off button as the panic button.

However, the implementation of the order was delayed by a year for various reasons.

From 26 January, UP will start a trial of panic button, which is backed by real time police response, the Women and Child Development (WCD) Minister told reporters at an event here.

"If it works in UP, it can work anywhere," she quipped, in a veiled reference to the high crime rate in the northern state.

Gandhi said an earlier trial of the project saw a large number of prank calls, leading to a delay in implementing the panic button feature.

Chetan Sanghi, Joint Secretary, WCD, explained that all the new phones in the country now have a panic button, but the back-end architecture is being implemented in Uttar Pradesh.

A smartphone user will have to download a mobile application which will send alerts if a victim long presses the panic button on the phone.

However, a person using a basic phone may only press the designated key, he said.

Although, the government is yet to notify which button on a phone would function as the panic button, the senior official said.

Once a user presses the panic button five calls will be made to emergency number 112, which is being integrated with emergency number 100.

Call log details as well as geo location of the victim will be sent by SMSes as well as emails to police officials at the state, district and local level.

SMSes will also be sent with the victims location to five family members or friends.

Similar SMSes go to 25-50 volunteers in the vicinity.

The WCD joint secretary said the volunteers would be screened by the authorities and would receive an orientation on how to provide help to a woman in distress.

Once the trial is successful in UP, it will be implemented in three other states identified by the Centre and eventually in the entire country.

Sanghi said the objective is to ensure pan-India implementation of the panic button before the end of this calendar year.

The Justice Verma Committee, constituted after the 2012 Delhi gang-rape, had recommended setting up of a public emergency response system.

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