India’s very own national emergency response number, on the lines of 911 in the US, is likely to be operational by January 2014.
The toll-free number will be a single point of contact for assistance in case of any kind of emergency such as fire, burglary, violence, house collapse etc.
The department of telecommunications, on the home ministry’s suggestion, is in an advanced stage of completing the emergency response system (ERS).
The number a caller has to dial, however, hasn’t been decided yet.
The ERS will comprise a software system that will interpret the call and choose an appropriate response, for instance, police for a woman in distress or an ambulance for an accident, and dispatch it to the desired location.
The ERS will be able to receive voice calls from landlines, mobile phones, public pay phones, internet, as well as multi-line telephone system, voice and text messages.
Telecom service providers and internet service providers will have to enable their networks for integration with ERS.
The ERS system will also have automatic location information (ALI) database to determine the location of the caller on the basis of the number of the caller.
Calls made and text messages sent to ERS will land at the nearest public safety answering point or the control room. The emergency response centre will function under the commissioner of police in major cities and under district magistrates in other cities and towns.
India currently has several helpline numbers such as 100 for police assistance and 108 for medical emergencies. There is, however, no unified response system, unlike in the US and the European Union.