A directive issued by the Indian Government earlier this year had mandated that panic buttons be incorporated into every mobile phone sold in the country. While Chinese multinational telecom equipment and consumer electronics manufacturer Huawei Technologies was the first company to accept and implement the idea earlier this year, seems as though it is only a matter of time before other OEMs will need to do the same. The order was originally issued in the aftermath of some high-profile assault cases in the National Capital Region (NCR) in recent years. According to Ms. Maneka Gandhi, the Union minister for women and child development, the rule will not only be applicable to new models rolling off of the factory assembly lines, but also to older models that are already in circulation currently. The idea apparently is the brainchild of her ministry, and it has already started working closely with the telecom ministry to put the plan into action.
According to sources quoted by the Times of India, the way the panic button is supposed to work is pretty simple. Once it is pressed for a few seconds at a stretch, the phone will automatically dial a pre-determined number, assigned by the user. Ms. Gandhi was answering questions in the Lok Sabha (the lower house of the Indian Parliament), when she detailed the hows and the whys of her ministry’s latest plan to keep women safe in the urban environment. According to her statement in the Parliament, “All new cell phones will be made with panic buttons. But in case of all old cell phones, you can go to the person who owns the company or the dealer and they will adjust it for you. If a woman is in trouble, she can just press the button on the cell phone and she will immediately get help”.
Earlier this year, Chinese smartphone maker Huawei had announced that’s its Honor brand of smartphones will come with an emergency SOS feature, which made it the first brand to comply with a Federal Government order to incorporate hardware panic buttons or software SOS features in all smartphones sold in the country. Transportation aggregator services like Uber had earlier already been mandated to include an SOS button on its app, after some of its drivers were accused of lewd and inappropriate behavior by female passengers. Of course, there are multiple SOS apps already available on the Play Store like bSafe, Emergency+, Emergency Button, SOS-Stay Safe, One Touch SOS etc. which are compatible with just about any Android device available on the market.