India will soon get its own 911-like single emergency number up and running. After the Telecom Commission approved 112 as India's emergency helpline for various services such as police, ambulance and fire department in March, a senior government official said the number would be operational next year.
"Single emergency number '112' will be operational from January 1," the government official told PTI. The application for 112's approval was drafted in March, pending telecom minister Ravi Shankar Prasad's approval, who is now onboard with the execution of a new emergency helpline.
Though the new single emergency number would go live next year, the existing emergency contact numbers such as 100 for police, 101 for fire department and 102 for ambulance would serve as secondary numbers. But those numbers would be closed once 112 gets national recognition through a public awareness campaign, the report added.
"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," the official said.
As earlier reported, 112 would be operational on both mobile phones and landlines even if their calling services have been suspended temporarily. The service is also expected to be operational through SMS, where the system would detect the sender's location and redirect to the nearest help centre.
All emergency calls to 112 would be sent over to a call-centre-like facility with representatives offering services in English, Hindi and local languages.
The Department of Telecommunications also passed a new law, which required OEMs to include a panic button in all phones to be sold in India from January 1, 2017. The commission also said that a built-in GPS navigation feature will be mandatory for all phones from January 1, 2018. The upgrade in technology of mobile phones is meant to make "human life better" and use it for the security of women, Prasad said last month.