New App Helps Emergency Services Locate Those Needing Help

Image supplied.
App image for location of CMCC.

A new, free app is gaining traction around the globe, helping emergency crews locate people in trouble and delivery services reach their destinations by identifying precise locations using global mapping technology.  Available in 193 countries and in more than 45 languages, the app makes it easy to describe a specific location by using three words.

Called What3words, the app is based on a global mapping system where the world has been divided into a series of three-meter squares which are each a unique combination of three words, called word tags.  There are 57 trillion addresses in this system, and every inch of the globe is covered.  The tags allow users to locate the area with latitudinal and longitudinal coordinates, communicating precise locations. These tags will never change, even when streets or buildings are redeveloped.  The precise and unique word tags eliminate confusion over duplicated street names- think of Bank St. E and Bank St. N in Millbrook, for example.   The tags are quick and easily to share with others. 

Among the many users are Cavan-Monaghan, Peterborough Police and Fire Services, OPP and Durham emergency services.  All are hoping the technology helps them quickly locate people in an emergency situation.  This is particularly helpful in rural areas, on trails and in parks where street addresses are not helpful. 

According to Cavan-Monaghan Fire Chief Bill Balfour, the app can be used in two ways: by direct access from the user who can share their location directly; or by allowing the emergency service communication centre to triangulate the person’s cell phone and convert it using their own app.  Smart phones with the apps are now available in the rescue units for all local emergency responders. Chief Balfour encourages residents to download the app to help 911 responders to locate people in emergency situations.

If you are lost, need assistance and don’t know where you are, the what3words address can be shared over the phone of in a text message as long as there is a phone signal if you have the app.  When you open the app, three words appear at the top of the screen, which will tell the responder the exact location of the caller. 

For more information or to download the app, visit www.w3w.co or visit the Cavan Monaghan website and watch the video what3words on the Emergency and Protective Services page.  The video shows how easy it is to tap the location button on the app and find the 3 words that identify the user’s location. KG

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