Three words that could save your life

October 2019 News

Technology company what3words has announced the rollout of its innovative location technology to South Africa’s premier emergency medical care provider, ER24, enabling faster response times in case of an incident.

Using a what3words address in an emergency gives callers a simple way to describe precisely where they need help, and allows ER24 to get resources straight to the scene.

what3words is a simple way to talk about location. They have divided the world into 3-metre by 3-metre squares and given each one a unique address using three words. rally.latches.steams, for example, will take you to a precise spot in at the Johannesburg Botanical gardens.

The app is free to download for both iOS and Android, or via browser, and works offline – making it ideal for use in areas with an unreliable data connection. The what3words address format is also consistent anywhere in the world, and available in 36 languages including isiZulu, Afrikaans and isiXhosa.

Emergencies can happen anywhere, from a road accident in the middle of rural Limpopo to an incident outside one of the gates at Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban. In an emergency situation, identifying precisely where help is needed is critical – and this can be near impossible if you are in an area with no address or if that address isn’t good enough to describe exactly where you are. If you didn’t know where you were, you might turn to your phone to try and locate yourself via a pin on a map – but imagine trying to describe your pin to someone over an emergency 084 124 call.

In South Africa, the solution can be particularly effective for emergencies in informal settlements, farms, beaches or even the coastline or rural areas where it can be complex, imprecise and difficult to communicate location without any addresses or points of reference nearby. And even in a well-addressed town or city, the person in distress may not be familiar with their surroundings, or able to share a location with accuracy – for example, the description “near Moses Mabhida Stadium” will not help get emergency services to get to the right place.

“Some of the informal settlements we get called out to do not have street names. Usually, someone will meet us at a particular landmark and show us how to go from there. But, having an application that will be able to take us to the exact spot will curb having to drive up and down a road in search of the scene. It will change our response times and make our jobs a little easier too,” said Jaco Kaalsen, of ER24 Bloemfontein.

By using what3words, everyone has a reliable and simple way to talk about location, which has broader implications on not only emergency services, but day-to-day life. It makes it easier to meet up with friends in a crowded place, guide guests to a parking lot, receive deliveries without the need to provide extra directions and explore rural areas without an address.”

Download the what3words app for free for both iOS and Android, or via your browser and check your exact address even while offline – https://what3words.com




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