Union Minister Maneka Gandhi today stated that a pilot project to test the 'panic button' feature on mobile phones would kickstart from January 26. The project will be rolled out in a phased manner, and it will kickstart from Uttar Pradesh on the said date. The panic button on mobile phones is to ensure women safety in the country.
For the unaware, back in April 2016, the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) had directed mobile phone manufacturers to add a panic button in their mobile phones by January 2017. Under the order, the DoT said that the phones should have a panic button in the form of numeric key 5 or 9, which will be easier to invoke emergency voice calls.
Also, mobile phone users should have the ability to enable/disable the panic button. The panic button for mobile phones was supposed to be implemented a lot earlier, but it has been delayed for some unknown reasons.
"The pilot project (to test the panic button backed by a real-time police response) will start in the state of UP from January 26," the Women and Child Development (WCD) minister told to reporters during an event in New Delhi as reported by PTI.
As stated, this will be first rolled out in Uttar Pradesh. "If it works in UP, it can work anywhere," the minister added in a veiled reference to the high crime rate in the northern state.
It is also said by Chetan Sanghi, Joint Secretary, WCD that all the new mobile phones in the country will now come with a panic button, and the back-end architecture will be set up in Uttar Pradesh.
Also, it was revealed that smartphone users should download a mobile application, which will map the panic button on the phone. Pressing the panic button will send alerts. This case is for smartphone users; In case of feature phone users, they need to press the key designated by the manufacturer. Sanghi also confirmed that the government is yet to notify on which button is to be mapped on the phone as the panic button.
"Once, a user presses the panic button; five calls will be made to emergency number 112. Following this, five SMSs will be immediately sent to police authorities, and another three to five SMSes will be sent to family members of the victim," added the PTI report.
Furthermore, officials revealed that 25-50 volunteers would be alerted whenever there's an emergency. And these volunteers will be screened by the authorities, as they will be receiving instructions on how to help the woman in distress. Lastly, they confirmed that this panic button trial would be implemented in three other states, following the successful trial in the UP. Later on, it will be rolled out in the entire country. Officials are expecting to implement this project on a pan-India basis before the end of this calendar year.