Govt to rope in private players to handle panic button calls
Worried over the lukewarm response from states over the implementation of setting up of public safety answering point (PSAP) to answer emergency calls, the government has decided to rope in private telecom service providers (TSP) to provide seamless connectivity of single emergency number '112'.
The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) has directed telecom service providers to map single emergency number '112' with existing emergency number '100' in all states and UTs. According to sources, the decision in this regard has been taken to provide uninterrupted connectivity of every emergency call as routing of 112 calls by all telecom service providers is presently aggregated through Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) connectivity to the respective states and UTs.
The sources further explained that private telecom players in states and UTs have already tested this service in coordination with state governments and confirmed DoT about its successful implementation as well as mapping in all the states with existing emergency number '100'.
"The DoT has also urged Ministry of Home Affairs to instruct all state/UT governments to take direct connectivity for the emergency number from either various telecom service providers to avoid any failure due to transit facility or overflow of the BSNL," the sources added.
The objective behind allowing private players is to handle emergency calls till the time PASP is implemented by respective states. Instructions along with detailed operational guidelines in this regard were issued to TSPs on May 4, but no state has implemented the PSAP till date.
According to sources, Vodafone tested the mapping services in Bhopal, Gwalior, Jabalpur, Indore; while Reliance Communications tested its services in the states of Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Gujarat and Maharashtra and Airtel tested its services in some parts of Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh (West) and West Bengal. Aircel has also tested it in Chennai and some parts of Assam.
In case of Delhi, a meeting was held with Delhi Police and MTNL, wherein it was decided to test the emergency calls by mapping '112' calls the existing lines of Delhi Police, which would be attended by their separately earmarked staff, the sources said, adding that the testing is in progress from June 27.
The single emergency number '112' has been designed to replace the multiplicity of emergency numbers operational in the country such as 100 (police), 101 (fire), 102 (ambulance) and 108 (disaster), etc. Setting an example for others, Uttarakhand has agreed to roll out '112' in the next couple of months, while Haryana has taken a separate dedicated number from BSNL and got it mapped to '112'.