Cellphones in India to Include Panic Button

John Lister's picture

Varying attitudes around the world to cellphone use are reflected in two new policies. India is to mandate 'panic buttons' in cellphones, while a German city has taken drastic measures to keep phone users safer.

The Indian rules begin to take effect next January when all cellphones on sale will have to include some form of panic button. The measure is designed to deal with growing fears for safety on the streets, particularly among women.

Officials reportedly concluded that while cellphones make it much easier to call for help than in the days of relying on payphones, the process of grabbing a phone, unlocking the screen if necessary, and calling 100 (the local equivalent of 911) may take too long in an emergency such as a potential assault.

Dedicated Panic Button One Of Two Options

The new rules mean phones must allow for an emergency call in one of two ways: a dedicated emergency button, or a configuration that makes the call if the user quickly presses the power button three times in succession.

The rules will then step up in January 2018 when all phones will have to include a built-in GPS signal so that emergency calls can automatically pass on the user's location to police or other services. (Source: indiatimes.com)

Meanwhile the German city of Augsburg has come up with an unusual situation to the common problem of pedestrians being so engrossed in their smartphone screens that they cross roads when it is unsafe, or miss a green crossing signal completely and thus have to stop traffic a second time before crossing.

New Lights Inspired By Teen Death

Officials decided to take action after a teenage girl was killed in another city when she walked in front of a tram on a red light while looking at a phone and listening to music on headphones. (Source: washingtonpost.com)

The city has responded by installing a string of lights directly into the sidewalk which turn red or green in sync with the traditional traffic lifts. The idea is that pedestrians who are looking down at their phones will still notice the change of color and thus cross the road at the appropriate time. Officials argue that even though the pedestrians are to blame for failing to pay attention, the move will improve safety for everyone, including motorists who'll be less likely to have to slam on the brakes.

For now the tactic will be trialed at two crossings, both in areas where students are regularly walking.

What's Your Opinion?

Is the panic button a sensible solution to make emergency calls easier? Should a government go as far as to mandate it for manufacturers? Should cities install traffic lights in the sidewalk or does that go too far in removing the responsibility of pedestrians to pay attention?

Rate this article: 
Average: 5 (8 votes)


cbecker_3631's picture

I think both solutions are brilliant. The panic button with mandatory GPS would not only benefit those in a potential criminal situation, but also those in a medical situation or those who have gotten lost or are in peril.

We have lighted crosswalks in my town at most crosswalks not serviced by traffic lights by schools. This has made it safer for those crossing multiple lanes in both directions so cars will stop even if they don't see you. Getting those on cellphones to push the button will still be a problem.

matt_2058's picture

Lights in the sidewalk should not remove a pedestrian's responsibility. But lights can make it safer for peds and drivers. I was TDY when I first saw lights in the crosswalks. I thought it was a great improvement. It alerts drivers to watch for walkers in dark times and in foggy weather.

Should a government go as far as to mandate it for manufacturers? Sure, why not. They mandate specific safety belts, emissions, and many other things they probably shouldn't.