The much awaited safety tool for women Emergency Response Support System (ERSS) called "Panic Button" was on Tuesday launched across 18 states.
The panic Button will now enable women in distress to make emergency calls through a single number "112" that will connect her to police, fire, health and other helplines through an Emergency Response Centre (ERC).
"I would urge everyone not to misuse the safety button. Unlike last time when we had conducted a trial in Delhi, more than 4 lakh calls were prank," Union Women & Child Development (WCD) Minister Maneka Gandhi said on the sidelines of the launch event.
The 18 states and union territories where the Panic Button is operational now are Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Puducherry, Kerala, Daman and Diu, Dadar and Nagar Haveli, Lakshadweep and Nagaland.
For enabling the safety tool, one needs to dial 112 from the phone and press power button on smartphones three times to connect to the ERC. For those who do not have a smart phone may long press "5" or "9" key on the phone to activate the panic call.
For seamless service of the safety tool, the ERC will coordinate with District Coordination Centres (DCCs) deployed by respective states.
The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), in collaboration with C-DAC, has come up with a suite of smart software applications to be used by the team of "call-takers" and dispatchers who constitute the ERC. The call-takers will be equipped to source location of the caller through interaction, or smart phone's GPS location services.
The project was taken up with the Department of Telecommunications in April 2016, making it mandatory for mobile phone manufacturers to provide panic buttons in cell phones by January 2017.
The first trial run of the app was done in Delhi, but it was unsuccessful due to a large number of prank calls. According to the Ministry, the lines got jammed on the very first day of trial and the police backed off which further led to delay in the project.
The WCD Ministry then conducted the second trial run in Uttar Pradesh in March last year. Later in October, Maneka Gandhi announced that the trials in the state were successful and that the initiative would be launched pan India soon.
The Central government has allocated Rs 321.69 crore from the Nirbhaya Fund to implement the ERSS project across the country.