News : Government to Re-launch National Helpline
Dhaka, Bangladesh, Dec 4, 2017 -- The national helpline 999 is expanding its capacity by three times to help people in trouble as the government is set to re-launch the emergency call service soon.
The ICT division introduced the highly successful project at the Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Hi-Tech Park in Gazipur in November last year to help people immediately reach emergency services of police, ambulance and fire departments.
The ICT division handed over operation of the helpline to the home ministry in October this year requesting it to run the service.
The call centre is now shifting to the central command and control centre of the police headquarters in the capital's Abdul Gani Road. This will bring up the number of seats at the call centre to 100.
The ICT division will now act as its strategic partner.
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The service will replace the existing short code "100" emergency service used by the police.
Police have already formed a separate technical team to handle the service, along with forming a special quick response unit to rush to the spot if it is within the city as soon as it receives the call, said officials related with the process.
If the call location is outside the city or far from the response team, it will be referred to its respective service points for ambulances, fire service or to other police stations, said a top official of the law enforcement agency.
"We have requested the home ministry to run the service as callers seek a huge number of security related services," said Zunaid Ahmed Palak, state minister for ICT.
Palak said the 999 service has already gained huge popularity and people are getting support from the centre. A good number of problems are solved through the process every day, he said.
The law enforcement agency has already taken ownership of the service, said a top official of the helpline.
"We have handed over the helpline's short code 999 and are transferring other technologies to police," said the official.
Police have appointed 500 people and trained more than a hundred personnel to run the centre.
Caller can make toll-free calls for emergency services like they did previously, said Sahely Ferdous, assistant inspector general of police headquarters.
Police will take legal action if anybody makes prank calls, according to officials.
For security reasons, every incoming call will be recorded and if anyone files any false complaint to harass someone then legal action will be taken against him or her, they said.
Executives of the call centre, who were employed at the previous centre in the Hi-Tech Park, said they have some case studies that may help police understand how the 999 service can aid the citizens.
On March 12 this year, Jamal Uddin Jomadder, a resident of Kakrail in the city, noticed a gas leak in a nearby house.
Without wasting anytime, he called the number. Sometime later, officials from Titas Gas Transmission and Distribution Company reached the spot and fixed the problem.
"It seems that a simple phone call saved us from a big disaster," said Jomadder, an e-commerce entrepreneur.
Short code emergency services are available in more than 125 countries, according to the International Telecommunication Union website.
Palak said, "We have developed this service to serve citizens and reduce their hassle."
He said of the total number of calls, a good number were prank calls, but they also brought some value for the project.
"We need to work closely to reduce the huge number of prank calls. Police should undertake a project to deal with [such] calls," Palak added.
Prime Minister's ICT Affairs Adviser Sajeeb Wazed Joy will officially inaugurate the service, according to sources.
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
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Published: Wednesday, December 6, 2017
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