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what3words is revolutionising the way we communicate location by dividing the world into a grid of 3m x 3m squares, and given each square a unique combination of three words: a what3words address.
Now everywhere has its own address, from the side of the motorway to parking spots and remote viewpoints. For example, ///topmost.super.headboard identifies a precise location of a hard-shoulder along the M60 where drivers can pull over in case of an emergency.
The app is free to download for both iOS and Android and works entirely offline – making it ideal for use in areas of the UK with an unreliable data connection, such as rural back-roads and motorways.
what3words can also be used via the online map at what3words.com.
The app is available in 54 languages to date, including welsh, arabic, chinese and polish.
what3words is now used by over 85% of UK emergency services – police, fire and ambulance – and has become an important tool in the emergency toolkit.
While not intended as a replacement for the traditional 'must-pack' safety gear worth bringing along on all long drives, the technology has become a well-used partner to emergency services, saving dispatchers and responders precious time and resources in an emergency.
‘Where’s the emergency?’ is one of the first questions you are asked when calling 999 but describing exactly where you are can be challenging. Emergencies can happen anywhere, from a remote field in the Welsh countryside, to the side of the M1, or the middle of Hyde Park.
Services often can’t detect where you are automatically and dropped pins are difficult to explain over the phone. Landmark-based descriptions are prone to errors and GPS coordinates are long and difficult to communicate. At best, this is a frustrating drain on resources. At worst, this can mean the difference between life and death.
Emergency services are trained to gather as much location information as possible from callers and have access to a number of different technologies and methods which help them to identify callers' locations - with what3words being one of them.
what3words has been used a number of times to help us to ensure our resources are sent exactly where help is needed, fast.
Superintendent Gareth Parkin of GMP’s Safer Transport Team said: "Greater Manchester Police has been working in collaboration with what3words and has proven a great success and in some cases life-saving for critical incidents in remote locations or difficult areas to identify.
"what3words is fantastic and I strongly urge those who do have access to a mobile phone or tablet to download the app and if you were to need to identify your exact location down to the specific co-ordinate you can be reassured in the knowledge that we will know exactly where you are and can get you the support you need quickly.
"Sometimes it’s difficult and very distressing when you don’t know where you are, or you can’t locate help or if you can describe where you are.
"If you were to call us in an emergency, you can tell our GMP call handlers your three simple words and we will be able to inform our officers and other emergency services where to go."