Indian Department of Telecommunications minister Ravi Shankar Prasad has passed a new policy that will go into effect come January 2017, which states that all mobile phones sold in India need to have a physical panic button installed on the device. When this particular button is pressed, an alert message would be sent to police and people specified by the phone’s owner. Not only this, but also all mobie phones shall be equipped with the location-tracking GPS technology by 2018. The minister shared this update on microblogging site Twitter –

Users may activate the panic button on their feature phones by pressing the ‘5’ or ‘9’ key; and the same panic button on smartphones can be activated by pressing the power button three times. Devices sold before the policy goes into effect can be upgraded at their respective smartphone company’s service centers.

The Ministry of Women and Child development started advocation the panic button service a couple years ago, following a sugnificant increase in the number of rapes and other women related crimes. Indian government’s Press Information Bureau released a statement explaining the significance of having a physical button over an app, saying that when under threat or in distress, the woman has mere seconds to react and the attacker(s) usually snatch away the phones soon after.

India has also taken several efforts to improve emergency response, and the latest update involves launching a single helpline number ‘112’ for all kinds of emergency calls.