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Work to set up nationwide emergency number kicks off

The government has taken the first step to set up a nationwide emergency number 112 mainly to deal with crime against women while expecting 5 lakh calls per day in the first year of operation.

The Union Home Ministry has floated the “Request for Proposal” last Friday for the “Selection of IT Service Provider for Nationwide Emergency Response System” and expects to operationalise the emergency number by 2017-18.

The proposed project under the Nirbhaya Fund, named in the memory of the December 16 gang-rape victim of Delhi, is aimed at meeting the current challenges faced by police forces in the absence of an immediate emergency response system, specifically inclined towards women’s issues.

The decision to have a common national emergency number came after the December 16, 2012, incident and Justice J S Verma Committee recommending such a measure.

The project is “conceived to bridge the gap”, a senior official said. The job of the selected IT service provided would be to “design, configure, customise, implement and maintain” the system to be implemented across India. The system has been designed to handle a large volume of calls daily with a significant busy hour call volume percentage that should ensure that maximum number of calls could be handled in an hour in peak-load conditions, the ministry document said.

According to an estimate, in the first year of operation, the system is likely to attract 5 lakh calls per day, or 18 crore per year.

At present, India has three emergency services 100 (Police), 102 (Fire) and 103 (Ambulance), designed at the time of a regulated telecom sector with only one telecom provider across India.

A number of cities have also provided additional numbers for specific emergencies and this led to “confusion” in the public about emergency contact number, the ministry said.

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