The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) has approved of TRAI’s recommendation to introduce a single emergency number, 112, which will replace all the existing crisis hotline numbers. However, the agency has rejected the proposal to make GPS mandatory in all mobile phones.
TRAI had suggested for the establishment of a single Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP) to cover police, fire and ambulance services back in April 2015. The move would be part of its overall plan of an efficient Integrated Emergency Communication and Response System (IECRS), which can now be accessed through the 112 number.
The old hotline numbers namely 100, 101, 102 and 108, will continue to work for one more year. During this period of time, it will be phased out gradually following a public awareness campaign conducted by the DoT. The numbers are now designated as secondary lines. Anyone calling it will be re-routed to the new 112 number.
While the DoT has approved this move towards a single emergency system, it did not look at TRAI’s proposal for compulsory GPS installation in all handsets with favor. According to the department, many people still carry low-cost phones which do not support GPS. It suggested conducting a study on the impact of making the tool mandatory in all devices.
TRAI has refused to budge from its position, asserting that a final date should be set for the transition towards GPS-enabled handsets. It feels such a change would enable accurate pinpointing of the location a caller is in. Phone manufacturers believe users in India are slow shifting from feature phones towards smartphones.
The companies went on to state that once the system is made compulsory, it should not prove to be expensive to introduce a GPS chip in all devices.