Mobile phones in India to have panic button from 2017

From January 2017, it will be mandatory for all mobiles handsets sold in India to feature a panic button. The new policy comes as an effort to enhance women safety.

In addition to the panic button, phones will have GPS systems, beginning in 2018. The new rules were announced by India’s telecom ministry. Pressing the panic button will alert the police and designated friends/relatives, for immediate response in case of distress or security related issues. Panic buttons will be activated on feature phones by pressing the “5” or “9” key while in case of smartphones, users should be able to make an emergency call by pressing the panic button for a long time, or by pressing the power on and off button in quick succession three times.  Devices sold before the rule goes into effect can be upgraded at service centers.

“Technology is solely meant to make human life better and what better than using it for the security of women,” Communications Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said in a statement. He further added that all the mobile manufacturers will have to abide by the new rules and introduce this software updates for phones sold in India.

Currently India has a number of emergency helpline numbers – (100), fire brigade (101), ambulance (102) and Emergency Disaster Management (108) – and there is a proposal to roll out one number 112 as the equivalent of 911.