TRAI recommended establishment of Integrated Emergency Communication & Response System
Under the proposal, the government can integrate all existing emergency numbers such as 100, 101, 102 and 108 into the proposed 112 helpline number.
Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) on 7 April 2015 recommended the establishment of Integrated Emergency Communication and Response System (IECRS) in the country.
This system can be accessed through a single emergency number 112 from a landline or mobile phone/device for all emergency phone-calls across the country.
The recommendation with respect to setting up of IECRS was made in exercise of its power conferred under section 11 (1)(a)(ii) and (vii) of the TRAI Act, 1997 which empowers TRAI to make recommendations, either suo motu or on a request from the licensor.
Main recommendations of TRAI on setting up of IECRS
• Adoption of number 112 as the single emergency number for India which may be popularised extensively through a public awareness campaign by the Government
• The existing emergency numbers 100,101,102 and 108 can 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. The DoT may amend the National Numbering Plan-2003 accordingly.
• Access to IECRS should 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.
• SMS based access to IECRS should be provided and Telecom Service Providers (TSPs) may be asked to provide location information in the case of SMS based access to IECRS also.
• PSAP (Public Safety Answering Point) operators should be able to handle calls in Hindi, English and the local language.
• Four regional databases, one each in metro city, containing subscriber details of TSPs should be set up in the country. These regional databases will be interconnected.
• Access to the regional databases will be provided free of charge, so that all the TSPs and PSAPs connect their respective systems to these databases.
• The number of PSAPs in a State/UT should be decided by the respective State Governments/UTs; however there should be at least one PSAP in a State/UT
• There should be one independent PSAP for every city with a population of more than two million as per Census-2011.
• Wherever there is more than one PSAP in a State/UT, they should act as primary and secondary PSAPs to each other so that overflow traffic of one PSAP can be handled by another in the State/UT.
• There should be a multi-sectoral agency which can coordinate and help in setting up of IECRS in the country.
• The multi-sectoral agency will have representations from Ministry of Home Affairs, Department of Telecommunications (DoT), Department of Electronics and Information Technology (DEITY), Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Ministry of Women and Child Development and other concerned Centre and State agencies.
What is an emergency number?
India, in the Cellular Mobile Telecom Services (CMTS) and Unified Access Services License (UASL) and Unified Licence (UL), has defined emergency services as, “Emergency service means an emergency of any kind, including any circumstances whatever resulting from major accidents, natural disasters and incidents involving toxic or radio-active materials and emergency services in respect of any locality means the relevant public, police, fire, ambulance and coast guard services for that locality”.
Why the need for a unified emergency response system in India?
In India, presently different emergency communication and response systems are in place for police, ambulance, fire brigade, civil defence, disaster management etc. For instance, some of the existing emergency numbers that exists in India, as per National Numbering Plan-2003, are 100 (Police), 101 (Fire), 102 (Ambulance) and 108 (Emergency Disaster Management).
Just opposite to this, most developed countries have put in place an IECRS under which emergency services are accessed nation-wide through a single number either 112 or 999.
The numbers used by developed countries is in line with the recommendations of the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) made in 2008 in its report Guidelines to select Emergency Number for Public Telecommunications Networks
Also, to fulfill the vision of the National Telecom Policy 2012 (NTP-2012) one of the strategies envisaged was to facilitate an institutional framework to establish Nationwide Unified Emergency Response Mechanism by providing a nationwide single access number for emergency services.
Even the Justice JS Verma Committee Report on amendment to Criminal Laws on 23 January 2013 also had stressed the need to have a public emergency response system.
Thus, TRAI recommended the use of single emergency number 112 across the country.