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In distress, women can now bank on their watches & lockets

Saturday, 11 January 2014 - 8:16am IST | Place: New Delhi | Agency: dna

  • Sudhir Shetty dna

Are you being stalked? Just rely on the wrist watch that you are wearing to come to your rescue. The Department of Electronics and Information Technology (DietY)  plans to provide a panic button in all handy devices like wrist watches, lockets and even feature phones to help women in distress.

“We are in the process of developing devices of small form factors such as watches, lockets, etc. We have asked IIT Delhi to work on it. They have even shown us the prototype and we are funding this project. They will get back to us in eight to nine months with a final model,” a senior DietY official told dna.

“These devices would range between Rs1,000 and Rs5,000,” he added.

The pilot for this project is being run in Jaipur since August last year. “We have been closely monitoring the technical glitches that may come in the time of crisis,” the official said.

Following the gruesome gang rape of the 23-year old woman in Delhi in 2012, the finance ministry had announced the project to have a panic button in mobile phones along with another project submitted by the road transport and highways ministry which suggested GPS-based tracking of all public transport in cities.

There are already some mobile apps available for women’s safety. However, they are largely either for Android or Windows users. A simple feature phone will not be able to make any use of these apps.  The government proposed devices would come in the range of Rs 1,000 to Rs5,000 very soon in the Indian market. The price can decline even further once we will hand over the software to private players.

Explaining the technicalities involved, the official said this would be like a dial 100 kind of a software. The moment the panic button is pressed, it will alert the control room which thereafter will pass the message to three PCR vans which are located nearest to the victim. The victim will be traced through the GPS.

Also if the victim is moving and while doing so crosses the zone of these vehicles, then the others which are nearest would automatically be alerted. “So far we have been working with the Jaipur police under our pilot project and by the end of this month we will hand over the entire system to the police.

What about places where there is no network — in places such as basement or an underground metro? Well, the department has a solution to that as well.

“We are working with CDAC to formulate a cell triangulation software which will trace the device even if it is in a no network area,” the official said.

This software will ensure that in a situation of crisis where there is no network, the device takes the signal from three nearest towers and enable a minimum GPS service so that the victim can be traced by the police.

The project is called Electronic Personal Safety System ePSS.

The department has been running a pilot project in Jaipur for the last six months to figure out what possible technological glitches can happen during emergency.

By the end of this month, the DeitY will have the pilot in full scale and then hand it over to the police completely. Thereafter the home ministry will take a call on it.  Currently, the pilot is designed to take up 32 emergency calls at a time and the response time is expected to be two to three minutes.

The department also had a consultation with the handset manufacturers on December 3. “The players were sensitive towards the issue. They asked for three months to come out with their report,” the official said.

Other devices already in the Indian market

Nirbhaya distress alarm: The tele-distress alarm device sends a message containing the name, blood group and last known location of the user to five chosen contacts from the mobile phone.
Developed by the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre, the pocket-size device can be activated by pressing a button and weighs 100 gms and costs Rs 3,000.

Nirbhay pepper spray: Nirbhay is a Sanskrit word for “without fear.” The pepper spray was exclusively launched for Indian women so that they could arm themselves with a legal and potent means to protect themselves and roam freely (and without fear). The pepper spray costs Rs 349.

Nirbhaya app: “The Nirbhaya: Be Fearless” is an Android emergency application, which can send a distress call or emergency message to a specified contact or group in an emergency situation faced by a woman or any other individual in general.

Nirbheek gun: The Indian Ordnance Factory in Kanpur manufactured Nirbheek, a light weight revolver specially designed for women. Weighing 500 grams, the gun is priced at Rs 1,22,360.

Anti-rape underwear: An undergarment for women called the Society Harnessing Equipment, which can shock a would-be rapist with 3,800 Kilovolts of electricity and send emergency text messages to the police, was created by three engineering students. The product is a prototype created by the students of SRM University in Chennai.

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