What3words:The app that can save your life

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memory man
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What3words:The app that can save your life

Post by memory man » Thu Aug 15, 2019 7:59 pm

Police have urged everyone to download a smartphone app they say has already saved several lives. What is it and how does it work?

Kicked. Converged. Soccer.

These three randomly chosen words saved Jess Tinsley and her friends after they got lost in a forest on a dark, wet night.

They had planned a five-mile circular stroll through the 4,900 acre (2,000 hectare) woodland Hamsterley Forest, in County Durham, on Sunday evening, but after three hours they were hopelessly lost.

"We were in a field and had no idea where we were," the 24-year-old care worker from Newton Aycliffe said.

"It was absolutely horrendous. I was joking about it and trying to laugh because I knew if I didn't laugh I would cry."

At 22:30 BST they found a spot with phone signal and dialled 999.

"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.

“I have told everyone I know to download this app," Ms Tinsley said.

"You never know when you are going to get lost and need it."

What3words essentially points to a very specific location.

Its developers divided the world into 57 trillion squares, each measuring 3m by 3m (10ft by 10ft) and each having a unique, randomly assigned three-word address.

For example, the door of 10 Downing Street is slurs.this.shark, while the area across the road where the press congregate is stage.pushy.nuns.

It was born out of company founder Chris Sheldrick's postal-related problems growing up in rural Hertfordshire.

"Our postcode did not point to our house," he said.

"We got used to getting post meant for other people, or having to stand in the road to flag down delivery drivers."

Ten years in the music industry, which involved trying to get bands to meet at specific entrances to their venues, also fuelled his frustration.

"I tried to get people to use longitude and latitude but that never caught on," Mr Sheldrick said.

"It got me thinking, how can you compress 16 digits into something much more user friendly?

"I was speaking to a mathematician and we found there were enough combinations of three words for every location in the world."

In fact, 40,000 words was enough.

The company started in 2013 and now employs more than 100 people at its base in Royal Oak, west London.

Mongolia has adopted what3words for its postal service, while Lonely Planet's guide for the country gives three word addresses for its points of interest.


“Instead of saying 'meet at the gate and then get directed from there,' we can be absolutely specific about where our crew needs to get to," Mr Wilkes said.

"It will make for a much more effective service. We are quite excited about it.

"It would be flippant of me to say this will become commonplace but I really do think it could be.

"I just cannot see a downside."
ercedes Benz has also included its system in its cars and what3words is now being used in 35 languages.

But still, not enough people know about it according to Lee Wilkes, a crew manager for Cornwall Fire and Rescue Service, one of 35 English and Welsh emergency services to have signed up to the system.

"It cuts out all ambiguity about where we need to be," he said.

Tackling fires in large rural expanses, for example on moors, will be helped by the system, Mr Wilkes said.
If people do not have the app, the emergency services can send a text message containing a web link to their phones.

But that requires a signal (85% of the country is said to have a 4G connection). The app does not need a phone signal to tell someone their three-word location, however.

"Say there was a group up a mountain and one got injured," Mr Sheldrick said.

"They haven't got any signal to call for help, but they can still find out their three word location.

"Someone from the group can then take that down and tell the emergency services, who then know exactly where to go to find the injured person."

The emergency services are urging people to download the free app.

If people do not have the app, the emergency services can send a text message containing a web link to their phones.

But that requires a signal (85% of the country is said to have a 4G connection). The app does not need a phone signal to tell someone their three-word location, however.

"Say there was a group up a mountain and one got injured," Mr Sheldrick said.

"They haven't got any signal to call for help, but they can still find out their three word location.

"Someone from the group can then take that down and tell the emergency services, who then know exactly where to go to find the injured person."

The emergency services are urging people to download the free app.

Humberside Police also used the system to find a group of foreign nationals, including a pregnant woman in labour, who were trapped inside a shipping container at a port.

"The port had over 20,000 containers and we knew that we needed to get to them quickly," said the force's control room supervisor Paul Redshaw.

The group were told to download the app and they were soon found.

"There is no doubt in my mind that these incidents could have had very different outcomes had we not been able to use what3words," Mr Redshaw said.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-4 ... m=facebook
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Lofos-5
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Re: What3words:The app that can save your life

Post by Lofos-5 » Thu Aug 15, 2019 8:13 pm

Amazing how accurate it is for my place here in Doha.
Thanks for sharing. A.

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Re: What3words:The app that can save your life

Post by Dominic » Thu Aug 15, 2019 8:24 pm

This came out a few years ago now. It was of interest to the geocaching community for fairly obvious reasons. I never heard from it again after that though, so it is nice to see it still being used.
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Happy in Cyprus
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Re: What3words:The app that can save your life

Post by Happy in Cyprus » Fri Aug 16, 2019 12:59 am

Genuinely curious, why would this app provide a more accurate location than a WhatsApp, Viber or Google pin? Does it's value come about because it doesn't require the user to have Mobile Data?

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Re: What3words:The app that can save your life

Post by Anarita John » Fri Aug 16, 2019 1:25 am

I use an Ordinance Survey app on my phone in the UK which gives me my precise location by gps without using mobile data. It gives a grid reference which could be used by the emergency services to locate me if I had an accident on one of my walks. However, this system is much quicker and simpler.
Lloyd, not everyone has mobile data on their phones. Rosemary has it on her contract phone but I do not have on my pay as you go. This works by using gps alone. My OS Map App works but obviously only in the UK, by just gps as long as I have downloaded the map of the area I am in first, when I am at home. This app could be invaluable in Cyprus, where even the emergency services have difficulty finding addresses.

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Re: What3words:The app that can save your life

Post by Dominic » Fri Aug 16, 2019 1:52 am

The only difference in using this compared to using a google pin (both will rely on the same tech) is that the user has to repeat three simple words, rather than a host of numbers.
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Happy in Cyprus
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Re: What3words:The app that can save your life

Post by Happy in Cyprus » Fri Aug 16, 2019 2:41 am

But with WhatApp or Viber you don't upload a load of numbers, you simply tap on the attachment which says "Send your current location". Of course, it does rely on the recipient also having WhatsApp or Viber and a mobile number as opposed to landline...and I guess that's the drawback.

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Lincoln
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Re: What3words:The app that can save your life

Post by Lincoln » Fri Aug 16, 2019 9:35 am

Anyone got any idea how to download this app. It all sounds a bit April the 1st to me though. :mrgreen:
All things are possible

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Dominic
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Re: What3words:The app that can save your life

Post by Dominic » Fri Aug 16, 2019 9:40 am

Happy in Cyprus wrote:
Fri Aug 16, 2019 2:41 am
But with WhatApp or Viber you don't upload a load of numbers, you simply tap on the attachment which says "Send your current location". Of course, it does rely on the recipient also having WhatsApp or Viber and a mobile number as opposed to landline...and I guess that's the drawback.
That is exactly what the drawback is. With the tech behind What3words, the only thing needed is that both parties have the app. The actual data is transferred verbally. It is a lot easier to say, especially in a hurry, that "I am at cheese.cubic.honey" than "I am at 34.2352134 N 32.345345 E".
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Re: What3words:The app that can save your life

Post by PhotoLady » Fri Aug 16, 2019 8:42 pm

You can do pretty much the same with this:
https://www.androidcentral.com/how-view ... oogle-maps
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Re: What3words:The app that can save your life

Post by Dominic » Fri Aug 16, 2019 10:48 pm

How?
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