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Callers Left in Distress as Helpline 100 Loses SOS Tag


New Delhi, India, Nov 14, 2019 -- Need Delhi Police help in an emergency situation? Don’t dial 100 for assistance.

The popular helpline number won’t serve your purpose anymore, not because it does not connect when you need it the most, but because it has been replaced by an integrated emergency helpline number ‘112’, launched last month.

The transition from 100 to 112 has been so sudden that it has left people confused about how to contact the police when in distress.

"Dial 100" is the first thought that comes to the mind of an ordinary citizen caught in a law and order problem, but the number now leads to an Interactive Voice Response (IVR) which directs the caller to press ‘8’ for 112 service, without mentioning that it’s the new police helpline number. People disconnect the call thinking it’s a cross-connection issue or some problem with the mobile network provider.

"It happened with my father where he dialled 100 in an emergency situation. After the IVR the call got disconnected. He then called me and after I reached home, I contacted the police by dialling 112. Police should not discontinue the 100 helpline till people get used to the new number. Till that time, all calls on 100 should be routed to 112," said Sahil Makkar, a resident.

Asked about the confusion, the police said they will review the process and make required changes for the convenience of people after getting approval from senior officers.

"We tried to keep the IVR short in order to reach out to the caller at the earliest. We will rework on the IVR, for example — ‘for police assistance, press 8’ — to make it sound more authentic," said a senior police officer.

The officer added that they are in the process of replacing ‘Dial 100’ mentioned on PCR vans with ‘Dial 112’.

They have also instructed all heads of district police and other units to publicise ‘112’ by updating their profiles on social media.

System-generated calls

"After we shifted to 112, the police control room witnessed heavy volume of emergency calls on the number. Later, we realised that most of the calls are system-generated that originate from mobile phones or computer devices when the user accidentally presses the emergency button on the device," said the officer.

To attend to genuine callers who actually need police assistance they have added a filter ‘8’ to the helpline. The police can’t waste time responding to system-generated calls, said the officer.

According to the police, on Tuesday, they received around 5.44 lakh calls on 112 and out of them 5.33 lakh were system-generated calls. "On an average we get 10,000 genuine calls and out of them only 5,000-6,000 are actionable calls," added the officer.

The ‘112’ helpline is an integration of police (100), fire (101), ambulance (102) and women safety (1090) helpline numbers. The main call centre in Delhi has been set up in Shalimar Bagh, which is operating under DCP (operations and communication).


Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
Source: https://www.thehindu.com

Date Posted: Friday, November 15, 2019

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