India's single emergency helpline'112' to be active from Jan 1

The single emergency number '112' that are intended to help people reach immediate police, ambulance and fire department services will be operational throughout India from 1 January 2017.

This would be similar to the '911' all-in-one emergency service in the US, telecom minister Ravi Shankar Prasad has approved the provision of a single number for various emergency services.

The single emergency number can be accessed through SIMs and landlines whose outgoing call facility has been stopped or temporarily suspended.

By dialing the number `112' a person in distress can get access to the concerned departments – police, ambulance or fire service, as the case may be.

Once the `112' emergency number becomes operational, all existing emergency numbers will be phased out within a year, depending upon the awareness about this new facility.

At present, the emergency response system has different dialling numbers in place - police (100), fire brigade (101), ambulance (102) and emergency disaster management (108).

Once the single number comes into force, telecom operators will redirect all emergency calls to 112. The process for directing calls made on 112 to concerned departments is being worked out.

Persons in distress can also use SMS messaging for communication and the system will locate the caller that will be shared with the nearest help centre.

People will be able to feed '112' in panic button system, which will also be mandatorily made available on all mobile phones from 1 January.

The emergency call or alerts can be sent to multiple numbers just by pressing a button.

Besides, in-built GPS navigation system would be mandatory for all phones a year later with effect from 1 January 2018.

The emergency call service will also be supported through a call centre facility, which will have representatives speaking in Hindi, English and the local language.