The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) has suggested the integration of all emergency call numbers across the country into a single number '112' that can be used for all emergency phone calls including police, fire and ambulance.
Similar to the '911' all-in-one emergency service in the US, Trai said, the government can integrate all existing emergency numbers such as 100, 101, 102 and 108 into the proposed '112' helpline number.
Trai has recommended the establishment of a PSAP-based Integrated Emergency Communication and Response System (IECRS) in the country which can be accessed through a single emergency number from a landline or mobile phone/device.
The Authority recommends that the new number 112 may be popularised extensively through a public awareness campaign by the government.
It suggested that the existing emergency numbers 100,101,102 and 108 could to be retained as secondary numbers.
The calls made to the secondary numbers should be re-routed to the new single emergency number for termination of calls on the IECRS with an announcement to the caller to call 112 as emergency number in future. Once calls to secondary numbers reduce significantly, these numbers can be withdrawn gradually.
The DoT may amend the National Numbering Plan-2003 accordingly.
Apart from calls meant for the police, fire and ambulance, wherever helplines for women, senior citizens and children are operational using separate numbers, these helplines should be integrated into the single emergency number in the initial phase.
The government, based on its preparedness, may integrate other emergency services progressively in a phased manner. Before integrating any emergency service with the IECRS, an awareness campaign should be run to educate citizens about the coverage of the IECRS.
Trai suggested that access to IECRS be permitted from the SIMs of those mobile phones / devices and from landline / mobile telephones where the outgoing call facility has been debarred or the service is temporarily suspended.
However, such access to emergency facility should not be allowed from mobile handsets / devices which do not have a SIM, it added.
Trai wanted calls to the single emergency number to be prioritised in the cellular mobile networks.
It has also called upon the government to expedite the acceptance and implementation of its recommendations of November 2013 on 'Telecom Network Failures during Emergencies / Disasters - Priority routing of calls of persons engaged in response and recovery'.
The PSAP, it has been suggested, should have various systems including a facility to automatically direct incoming calls to a free call taker and location tracking system having an interface to plot incoming location information on a map showing all nearby landmarks and resources and display on a monitor. It also suggested PCR vans, fire engines and ambulances should be fitted with GPS to transmit location information to PSAP.
PSAP operators should be able to handle calls in Hindi, English and local languages, it suggested.
Trai has suggested that BSNL may be directed to set up or hire and maintain infrastructure wherein the subscriber database provided by all telecom operators is installed and updated.
BSNL will be responsible for managing the confidential databases and also ensure confidentiality and secrecy of the data, the regulator said.