All mobile phones to be sold in India from Jan. 1, 2017, will come with a dedicated panic button that would dial an emergency call at a click of a button, the Department of Telecommunications said in a notification on Monday, as reported by the Hindustan Times.
As a follow-up initiative, in 2018, an in-built GPS navigation feature will be mandatory for all mobile phones to be sold in India, said Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad.
"Technology is solely meant to make human life better and what better than using it for the security of women... from January 1, 2017, no cell phone can be sold without a provision for panic button and from January 1, 2018 mobile sets should have also GPS inbuilt," the minister said in a statement.
In December 2015, the ministry for women and child development, in its bid to address the security concerns of women, convinced the top mobile industry body to include the safety feature in phones. A report in early April 2016 had said that the existing phones will get the safety feature through a software update. However, for ordinary feature handsets, the device makers were advised to develop an application and help mobile phone owners install it at service centres.
The project was expected to be financed by the Nirbhaya fund, which was set up after the gruesome Delhi gang rape incident in 2012.
Explaining the ways in which the panic button could function, the notification added it could either be a single press for long time to kick-start an emergency call or short pressing the existing power off/on button thrice continuously.
While the panic button could come as an easy extension on all kinds of phone, the GPS currently is a feature restricted to smartphones with advanced configurations.