What 3 Words
What is it? How does it work?
What3words is a specific and easy way of finding your location no matter where you are. Through the use of a mobile app, what3words has divided the globe into 3m x 3m squares and given each one a unique 3-word address through using a total of 40,000 words in different combinations. People can access their current three-word address online or offline on Android and iOS devices which is ideal if someone is lost in a remote location with little mobile service. The service can be used anywhere in the world and is available in 35 different languages. The 3-word address will then be used by the control room to identify your precise location and send help exactly where it is needed.
What3words points to a specific location so it can even be used for famous landmarks and destinations. Examples include:
- The door of 10 Downing Street is slurs.this.shark
- The Etihad stadium in Manchester is calls.closes.flesh
- One of the Emmerdale filming locations is terms.bids.fumes
- Chester Zoo is brick.space.employ
- The Statue of Liberty is planets.inches.most
Why does it help the emergency services to use this?
This service specifically helps emergency services because of the level of accuracy. For instance, each location or house within the 3m x 3m squares has its own combination. This is especially useful for emergency services when working in more rural areas with less street addresses and postcodes. This is also extremely beneficial to Mountain Rescue services to help track down people who may be lost in harsh and brutal weather conditions.
There have already been a range of incidents where this app has been used to help reduce the severity of a situation and rescue any people in danger. For example:
- North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service found a woman who had crashed her car but was unsure where she was.
- Humberside Police were able to quickly resolve a hostage situation after the victim was able to tell officers exactly where she was being held.
- South Yorkshire Police used it to find a 65-year-old man who became trapped after falling down a railway embankment in Sheffield.
Another recent incident where this app has successfully rescued people was in Hamsterley Forest. Jess Tinsley and her friends got lost in the forest on a five-mile circular stroll through the 4,900 acre (2,000 hectare) woodland which is in County Durham but three hours into their trip they were helplessly lost. "We were in a field and had no idea where we were," the 24-year-old care worker from Newton Aycliffe said.
When the group phoned the emergency services, they told her to download the app ‘What3words’ and this was the key to tracking their location. When the group downloaded the app, they gave the words ‘kicked’, ‘converged’ and ‘soccer’ and this was allowed emergency services to track them down.
"One of the first things the call-handler told us to do was download the what3words app," Ms Tinsley said.
"I had never heard of it."
Within a minute of its download, the police said they knew where the group was and the soaked and freezing walkers were swiftly found by the Teesdale and Weardale Search and Mountain Rescue Team.
Take a look at the WHAT 3 WORDS website here and find out what three words have been allocated to your home address or work place by using your postcode.
Don’t forget to download the app too via your app store on your mobile.