The Indian government has declared that all mobile phones sold in the country from 2017 will have a panic button. This button would let the user make emergency calls to get urgent assistance.
All the new handsets will come with a panic button, but the existing mobile phones will not have this feature. This is because the Indian mobile phone manufacturers have argued that it is not possible to install panic buttons on handsets that are already in use. It has deprived over one billion mobile phone subscribers in India from the new facility.
The government had ordered cell phone manufacturers to install panic buttons for all new phones from January 2017 to render emergency assistance to women. The government had also ordered to made built-in GPS navigation mandatory of all phones sold from 2018.
In June, the government’s department of telecommunication requested all the companies to install software to enable panic button in all existing mobile phones. But the Indian Cellular Association President Pankaj Mohindroo said, “It’s not possible to install it in existing phones in circulation.”
All the emergency calls will land on India’s upcoming single emergency response number 112. The subject can make an emergency call even if the phone balance is zero, but SIM card is mandatory for it. He/she can make the call by pressing the power button thrice. The feature phones will have the facility by tapping numeric key 5 or 9.
The effectiveness of Panic button is questionable.
Last month, the Internet & Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) raised a question about the effectiveness of this step in the absence of prompt response mechanism.
“India has launched many emergency numbers and safety apps similar to this in the past, but none of the initiatives have been effective. Most of these programs are well-designed solutions but suffer from poor back-end infrastructure or lack of an effective response management system with the local police,” IAMAI said in a statement.
They pointed out that the government needs to focus on enhancing existing law enforcement initiatives and sensitize the agencies to handle emergency situations. A strong back-end support will lead to easy adoption by users and encourage the businesses to innovate.