Help us to help you: Central Utah 911 encourages the public to download the life-saving location app what3words before heading out this summer. Emergency response teams across the US are encouraging the public to download the free what3words app, to help save time, resources and even lives.
what3words provides a simple way to communicate very precise locations, and across the globe, the technology has been successfully used by emergency response teams for everything from reporting fires and rescuing pets to locating injured hikers, stranded sailors, and lost walkers with pinpoint accuracy.
Every year emergency response teams brace for a busy period as locals and visitors alike make the most of the spring weather – heading out for hikes, swims, BBQs, and more. Festivals and large outdoor events have also restarted, all of which can lead to an uptick in calls from individuals who find themselves in trouble.
In an emergency, identifying precisely where help is needed is critical to getting resources to the scene quickly, however, emergency control centers often cannot automatically detect a caller’s precise location, and callers themselves can struggle to provide precise locations in areas without street addresses such as large parks or campsites. In these moments, response teams can spend precious time and resources just trying to locate the person in need of help.
what3words provides a simple solution. The system has divided the world into a grid of 10ft x 10ft squares and given each square a unique combination of 3 random words: a what3words address. This means every park bench, parking space, pitch on a campsite, and remote spot on a hiking trail has its own what3words address. The app is free to download for both iOS and Android devices, and via the online map at what3words.com. The technology also works offline, making it ideal for use in areas with unreliable data connections.
Central Utah 911 has been using what3words since January 2021. It has been used several times to help us to ensure our resources are sent exactly where help is needed, fast. Notable incidents include locating an injured hiker up Diamond Fork Canyon and a man experiencing chest pain in a crowd at a rodeo.
Teams from the agencies we serve have praised what3words’ innovative location technology for enabling call takers to dispatch resources to exactly where help is needed. Downloading the what3words app is one of the simplest actions the public can take to support busy emergency response teams this spring. The technology is available in 54 languages to date, including Spanish, and can be used anywhere in the world. The system does not store or track users' location data, and there are no advertisements on the app or map.
Emergency response teams are trained to gather as much location information as possible from callers. They have access to a number of different technologies and methods which help them to identify callers' locations – with what3words being one of them. While not intended as a replacement for the traditional 'must-pack' equipment and resources worth bringing along on all road trips, hikes and outdoor adventures, the technology has become a well-used additional tool to emergency services around the world, saving dispatchers and responders time and resources in an emergency.