What3Words: An App That Could Save Your Life

An Australian First

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Ambulance Tasmania

‘What3Words’ is an evolutionary mobile application that has divided the globe into a grid of 57 trillion 3m squares which have each been allocated a unique three word code. These three words are then used as reference points to geo-locate people in an emergency situation.

Ambulance Tasmania was the first emergency service in Australia to use this application during an extraordinary rescue of a woman injured on a cliff face off the Northern Coast of Flinders Island earlier this month.

State Operations Manager of Ambulance Tasmania, Michael Fawcett,  explained how the technology changes the way emergency services can locate and help injured or lost people in Tasmania and why everyone should download it.

“It could potentially save ten, twenty, thirty minutes, instead of someone trying to guess where they are or find someone else to ask.”

The two companions of the injured woman walked to find phone signal so that they could ring for help. Unfortunately, like in a lot of cases, they were unfamiliar with where they were and were unable to pinpoint their location.

Mr Fawcett explained that they used traditional methods first to try and gain some history on where the party had left from and what they could see around them.

“We actually thought we would try something innovative that we had only just introduced to our state operations centre and that was to send them the hyperlink…they didn’t actually have the app downloaded on their phone but we were able to SMS them a hyperlink that they could then click on and that would…take them to the website and all they had to do then was read the three unique words that What3Words had indicated for their exact location.”

The link that was sent to her companions used the phone’s GPS to geo-locate them and the three words that marked their location allowed emergency services to pinpoint their location and send out the necessary rescue equipment and team.

“It’s as accurate as a GPS type co-ordinate. It is a little easier for the common person to say over the phone especially in an emergency when people are quite stressed.”

The application is extremely popular in other countries and is also used to locate people injured in traffic accidents.

“There are a lot of emergency services overseas and especially in Europe utilising this technology already and have been for some time.”

Mr Fawcett encourages everyone to download the application as another tool in being prepared for an emergency. It allows emergency services to cut down the search time which will lead to more lives being saved in the future.

Chelsea Wilde

22 May 2020

Article by:

Chelsea Wilde

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