NEW DELHI: India has decided to adopt ‘112’ as the national emergency number, similar to ‘911’ in the US and ‘999’ in the UK, with the inter-ministerial telecom commission giving a go-ahead to the move.
The roll-out of ‘112’ may see a gradual phase-out of existing emergency numbers like 100 (for police), 101 (fire), 102 (ambulance) and 108 (disaster management), though they will continue to be in operation for at least a year.
The idea of having a single number for all emergencies has been in the works for a long time and would require the active participation and enabling provisions from states to make it a success.
Telecom regulator Trai had suggested the adoption of 112 as the national emergency number in its recommendations submitted to the telecom department in April last year. It had suggested the inclusion of a host of services, beginning with calls meant for police, fire, ambulance, helpline for women, senior citizens and children initially. Other services may be integrated gradually and in a phased manner.
To make the service successful and highly efficient, calls to the emergency number will be prioritised in mobile networks while SMSbased access will also be permitted. Importantly, the location information and details of the caller will need to be made available to the agencies taking the emergency calls so that swift help can be provided. “The states will need to set up call centres that would also cater to the local languages spoken in their respective region,” an official source said.
Analysts say that implementation of the measure can be a challenge as many of the areas, especially policing, is a state subject. Also, putting in place an adequate infrastructure — like ambulances and requisite number of police personnel — to deal with emergency situations at a quick pace, can be an infrastructure nightmare.
The number 112 was chosen due to a variety of reasons. 100, which is one of the widely known numbers for emergency, was not recommended as it is associated with police and several sections of society, especially women and children, may not wish to dial it.