KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 25 — Police response to crime victims in the immediate future may be slower after Bukit Aman unplugged the MyDistress emergency panic button smartphone application, a local crime watchdog suggested today.
Despite the police saying today that the MyDistress will be replaced with a similar application called SaveMe999, anti-crime group MARAH’s Dave Avran protested the move, noting that it would be introduced at an unknown date.
“This is very distressing news indeed. What do we do in the meantime when there is no direct link to PDRM?” asked Avran, MARAH’s founder.
Protesting the replacement of MyDistress with SaveMe999, Avran pointed out that the smartphone application that was suspended earlier this month has been “working well” and had even won an award at the Asia Pacific Information and Communication Technology Alliance (APICTA) 2012.
He contrasted it to SaveMe999, which was reportedly developed by the Communication and Multimedia Ministry using the Malaysian Emergency Response System (MERS 999).
Avran complained that those using the existing MERS999 emergency hotline — which was developed by Telekom Malaysia Berhad (TM) at a cost of RM801.55 million — would have to go through a lengthy process to alert police about crime.
“The current MERS999 emergency hotline is administered by Telekom and precious minutes are wasted by the operator’s vetting process before they decide to connect you to PDRM, Hospital, Bomba or National Defence, where the caller will again have to go through another verification process by giving name, identification number, address and nature of emergency.
“Not exactly the experience we would want to have to go through when we are in a distraught and panicky state,” he said.
Avran also pointed to the Auditor-General’s Report last year, which found that the MERS999 system had performed poorly, with 7.65 million calls or 32.4 per cent of a total of 23.6 million emergency calls from January-August 2012 left unanswered.
“Even if only a minuscule 1 per cent of these emergency calls were a life and death situation, the repercussions are truly alarming. If these allegations by the AG prove true, is Telekom really the kind of company we want operating our emergency call centre?” Avran asked.
In The Star Online’s report today, the operator of the SaveMe999 that will be used nationwide was not named.
The daily said that SaveMe999 was released on September 9 this year, with a development cost of close to RM1 billion.
Today, Bukit Aman Logistics director Datuk Zulkifli Abdullah said the SaveMe999 — which is currently used for disabled persons — will soon be the sole emergency channel for the public to link to the police.
Earlier this month, the Selangor police had pulled the plug on MyDistress, saying that it needed to review the legal and technical aspects of the privately-runned application.
MyDistress, which was launched in August 2011 and is only meant for those living in Selangor, alerts and sends police personnel to the smartphone user’s location at the touch of a button.