New Delhi, INDIA
VIJAY SHAH via PTI & Deccan Herald
India will follow in the steps of Europe and North America by instituting a single number for emergency services as of 1st January 2017, enabling more convenience for the services and the public, the Deccan Herald reports.
As with America’s ‘911’ and the U.K.’s 999 services, Indian citizens looking to report a crime or incident will be able to dial ‘112’ to give them direct access to the fire brigade, ambulance service and the police, and this will be operational as of the first day of next year, a senior governmental official told the country’s Press Trust of India (PTI). The new easy to dial number has been formally approved by Telecoms Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad.
112 will be available even to mobile phones and landlines that are out of coverage, low on credit or that are barred from making outgoing calls. Currently, the emergency services are contactable via different numbers. To dial the police, callers must use 100, for the fire brigade, it is 101. Ambulances are reached through the number 102 and Emergency Disaster Management crews are contacted via 108. Having 112 as a single number to cover all the services will greatly improve response times and co-ordination between emergency responders in the nation of 1 billion people.
The unnamed official told PTI: “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,”
“At present, there are call centres which handle emergency number calls. They will be asked to handle calls on 112 as well. Besides, requirement of additional capacity is being worked out which will be in place by January 1,”
People will also be able to contact emergency services by texting 112, and operators will be able to obtain their location via their mobile signal. The telecoms ministry also plans to bring in an associated ‘panic button’ system which will be made compulsory for all mobile handsets sold in India as of 2017, the Herald reports. GPS navigation systems will also be made compulsory on all handsets to enable emergency services to trace callers in distress.
All calls to the police and others will be routed through a call centre with operators on hand who will be able to take calls and texts in English, Hindi and regional languages such as Gujarati and Tamil.