Knowing exactly where an incident is taking place helps Emergency Services to respond efficiently and effectively. However, emergencies can happen anywhere, often in places not covered by an accurate or reliable street address and without a visible landmark or reliable mobile connection. This means call handlers are frequently provided with inaccurate or unreliable directions from 999 callers, which can limit their ability to dispatch crews quickly.
what3words is providing a solution. By converting GPS coordinates into words, the system has given every 3m square in the world a 3 word address. This means that unique combinations made of three random words can now be used to describe precise locations around the world. For example, ///labels.quiz.bound is a specific entrance to the The Lanes shopping centre in Carlisle, UK.
“Using words makes the passing and sharing of locations more human-friendly and reduces the likelihood for error.”
The free what3words app allows members of the public calling Emergency Services to find their current 3 word address and use it as a simple way to communicate exactly where an incident has taken, or is taking, place. Using words makes the passing and sharing of locations more human-friendly and reduces the likelihood for error. For instance, a person reporting a problem along the River Calder could tell West Yorkshire Police that it was taking place at “chin asleep pump” and response would be dispatched to that exact location. Services have also deployed the what3words app onto team devices so crews can use it to get to the precise 3m squares.
Over seventy Emergency Services in the UK are set-up to use what3words within their control room. Many control room software systems have also integrated what3words directly into their incident reporting software so 3 word addresses can be typed directly into the computer-aided dispatch system.
“In multi-agency operations, 3 word addresses allow different crews from Police, Fire and Ambulance to share accurate location information with ease.”
Many stories are emerging about how 3-word addresses are being used effectively within Emergency Response. The type of incident varies widely – from locating lost and vulnerable missing persons, to tackling rural fires, or ensuring that medical assistance is delivered to those with critical injuries quickly. In multi-agency operations, 3 word addresses allow different crews from Police, Fire and Ambulance to share accurate location information with ease, which has reportedly reduced the need for expensive resources like helicopters and search units to be deployed in many scenarios.
With more Emergency Services rolling out what3words these benefits are now being experienced across the country, making what3words an everyday part of emergency response today.
By Geordie Palmer, Business Development Director at what3words
Biography: Prior to what3words, Geordie founded and sold a travel tech company. He joined what3words and led their international expansion into Mongolia and South Africa. As Business Development Director he is responsible for partnerships in the emergency services sector.