BY: JESSICA BEUKER
Starting in 2017, all new mobile phones sold in India are required to have a panic button for users to make emergency calls. By 2018, phones will also be required to have built-in GPS navigation.
According to Tech Crunch, these new requirements were announced by India’s telecommunications ministry to improve women’s safety. Panic buttons will be activated on phones by pressing the “5” or “9” key, while on smartphones, it will require the user to press the power button three times. Once activated, an alert will be sent out to people chosen by the phone’s user, as well as the police. The GPS feature will also allow police to map the location of the signal.
All manufacturers, including Apple and Samsung will have to abide by the new rules when introducing software updates for phones they sell in India. Any phones sold before the new rule goes into effect can be upgraded at service centres at no charge.
All manufacturers, including Apple and Samsung will have to abide by the new rules when introducing software updates for phones they sell in India.
India has recently taken a number of steps to improve emergency response. Currently, the country does not have a national emergency number, but according to Mashable, plans to introduce 112 as its response number in the next few months.
The new safety measures come at a time where women in India are facing staggeringly high rates of rape and violence. According to BBC, The National Crime Records Bureau said there were 337,922 reports of violence against women in 2014 alone, including 36,000 rapes. That number is likely much higher as many cases go unreported.
The GPS feature will also allow police to map the location of the signal.
One case in particular, a 2012 gang rape on a Delhi bus, which caused the death of a 23-year-old medical student, sparked anger across the country and led to a push for new anti-rape laws. Since then, there have still been a number of incredibly shocking and brutal cases, such as the rape and death of a five-year-old girl in 2013, and the gang rape and murder of a woman who was undergoing treatment for depression, at the end of 2015.
Some companies have already introduced safety apps. There is no guarantee that it will reduce crime rates, but the new measure is a big step towards making emergency assistance accessible to women in India.