Going Beyond Women’s Safety Apps, Government Asks Phone Manufacturers to Install a Panic Button


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The Central government has asked all mobile phone manufactures to install an emergency panic button on phones sold in the country, so women can easily access help in the time of need without any hassles. 

Several apps to help women in case of any emergency, have come up. These are apps which send distress messages to friends, family and police authorities. But are they as easily accessible in a moment of trouble and rush, as an emergency panic button on the phone itself would be? It is a common concern that most of the apps will take too long to access during emergencies.

Keeping this in mind, and in an attempt to make the nation safer for women, the Central government has asked all mobile phone manufacturers to install a one touch panic button on the phones sold in India.

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Photo Credit: Flickr

The administration suggests that one of the existing buttons on phones should be configured for emergencies. The button will need a long or double press to prevent accidental alerts. Once it is pressed, an SMS will be sent out to a few pre-set numbers – list of friends, relatives and emergency contacts. The message will include location details as well. Thus there will be no need to unlock the phone first.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been pushing for this modification, and the Ministry of Communication and Ministry of Women and Child Development has been working on the same. Two weeks ago, a meeting of all stakeholders, representatives of phone manufacturing companies (local and international), and secretaries of the two ministries was held. The next meeting this month will include discussions on the design and technicalities.

“The first round of talks has been done and I have been told that they (manufacturers) have agreed in principle,” said Women and Child Development Minister, Maneka Gandhi, to Economic Times.

According to Economic Time, a senior ministry official also informed that the manufacturers have been told that pressing a button on the phone itself will be much easier and time saving, as compared to the apps already available in the market. And while there were initial resistances from some companies, they later agreed. This facility can be provided in basic phones as well, and will not be restricted to smartphone only.

The initiative started in the first place after Maneka Gandhi wrote to the communications minister requesting for a meeting with manufacturers.

“Hon’ble Prime Minister had recently mentioned that it is desirable to have a ‘panic button’ on all mobile phone handsets so that a women user can access help in times of distress. I understand that there are a number of apps available for this purpose but in a situation of distress, particularly in situations where women are facing acts of violence, it is not possible to launch an app and access help,” she wrote in the letter.

There are chances that we will soon have a one push panic button on our phones which will help alert our people in case of an emergency.

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