Panic button facility on phones set for another trial in May

‘U.P. police responded to calls in less than 15 minutes during first test run’

April 17, 2018 09:26 pm | Updated 09:26 pm IST - New Delhi

The much-awaited panic button facility on mobile phones will undergo another round of trial in Uttar Pradesh in May before it is rolled out in a phased manner across the country, according to a senior government official.

In April 2016, the government directed mobile manufacturers to provide the facility from January 2017 to ensure better safety for women. However, the implementation of its order has been delayed for several reasons.

The first round of trial was conducted in U.P. for five days from March 18, following which the Ministries of Women and Child Development, Home Affairs and Electronics and Information Technology carried out a review.

“On the basis of our learning from the first round of trial, we will make certain changes to the software and make it more user-friendly. Another trial will be conducted in U.P. in the first week of May,” said a senior official of the Ministry of Women and Child Development (WCD) on the condition of anonymity.

Only for smartphones

The test run is being conducted only for smartphone users. More than 250 volunteers participated in the trial and a total of 2,000 panic calls were generated.

The WCD official said the main aim was to test the accuracy levels in locating the origin of the panic calls, which he said was “within acceptable limits”.

The average response time of the U.P. police was under 15 minutes, the source added

The official said that once the trial is successful in U.P., it would be extended to States which have police machinery capable of reaching any part of the State within 20 minutes.

WCD officials had earlier planned a pan-India implementation of the panic button before the end of this calendar year.

While the trial was initially planned for both smartphones as well as feature phones, it is now being carried out only on smartphones because mobile phone manufacturers opposed mandatory GPS on feature phones saying it would push up costs.

The Justice Verma Committee constituted after the 2012 Delhi gangrape had recommended setting up of a public emergency response system.

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