The Home Ministry wants to have 911-type service in India for emergency response.

The Ministry has asked the Department of Telecom to include this as part of the National Telecom Security Policy, which is in the drafting stage.

The 911 emergency service has been mandated by the Federal Communications Commission in the US and it allows security agencies to trace subscriber’s location in a crisis situation.

In India, there are different numbers for each type of emergency and often callers are told to call a different department. For instance, 100 has been assigned for calling the police while fire and medical emergency have different call numbers. In addition, various State governments have introduced their own emergency response numbers.

Once the 911-type service is introduced then public will be able to call a single number for all types of emergencies across the country. The person handling the call will then pass on the information to the relevant department for action.

Security policy

The DoT is framing the security policy with the objective of creating a single platform for dealing with concerns around telecom network security. The proposed policy includes a number of issues including vulnerabilities and threats to telecom network, communication assistance to security agencies, disaster management and data security. The draft of the policy framework has been sent to the National Information Board for approval.

Industry concerns

While the telecom industry has broadly supported the policy, they have expressed concerns with some of the guidelines, especially the need to get a ‘safe-to-connect’ certification before any network equipment is used by the operator.

The Communication and Information Network Association of Japan, for instance, has raised concerns against this move on grounds that India would create its own standards that may not be in line with the international norms.

“Safe –to-connect policy is not an international practise for a State and excessive evaluation and certification scheme threatens to push-up costs and hampers the prompt market injection of latest technologies,” the Japanese association said in its comments to the Government on the draft policy.

Thomas.thomas@thehindu.co.in

(This article was published on February 11, 2013)
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