Owen Sound Emergency Communications Centre roll outs what3words location technology in a revolutionary move to help them locate people in an emergency

  • Emergency Dispatch Centres and responders in Owen Sound, Saugeen Shores, Hanover, West Grey, Port Hope, Cobourg, Dryden areas and 25 fire departments in North Huron,  Bruce and Grey County,  Canada are starting to use  ground breaking location technology what3words to locate 9-1-1 callers faster
  • what3words has divided the world into a grid of 3m x 3m squares and given each square a unique what3words address. [For example, ///sustaining.lazier.glaring will take you one of the trails in Harrison Park near the campground ]
  • Following the success of its rollout in the UK, South Africa, Australia and Germany, where the system is helping Police, Fire and Ambulance teams to save precious time, resources & lives

 01April2021 at 09:00 hours:   The Owen Sound Police Service Emergency Communication Centre who currently dispatches for 7 Police Agencies and 25 Fire Departments and are the Public Safety Answering Point in Bruce and Grey County, in Canada, have started to adopt the innovative global address system what3words, following the successful use of the system to help locate people in need of help in the UK and Australia. To find you more easily in an emergency, 911 police dispatchers for municipalities of  Owen Sound, Saugeen Shores, West Grey, Hanover, Port Hope, Cobourg and Dryden and fire dispatchers for Owen Sound, Georgian Bluffs (Intertownship Fire), Chatsworth, Meaford, Grey Highlands (Markdale/Flesherton), West Grey (Durham, Ayton, Neustadt), Dundalk,  Tara-Arran, Chesley, Paisley, South Bruce (Teeswater, Mildmay), North Bruce Peninsula (Lion’s Head, Tobermory), South Bruce Peninsula (Sauble Beach, Wiarton), Saugeen First Nations, Chippewas of Nawash are encouraging members of the public to download the app and be ready to provide their what3words address in an emergency.

what3words is an easy way to talk about location. Every 3m square in the world has been given a unique combination of three words: a what3words address.  For example, ///brushed.amount..doing will take you to the Kemble Mountain Management Area or ///shovels.thresholds.books will take you to open waters of Lake Huron and  the beautiful Chantry Island Lighthouse.   Members of the public can download the free what3words app for iOS and Android or use the online map. The app works offline making it ideal for use in the rural areas of Canada that might have a poor internet connection, such as the Niagara Escarpment  that is enjoyed by hikers, tourists and lovers of the great outdoors alike. Every 3m square in the world has a what3words address, and they are available in over 40 languages, including French.

London-based technology company what3words started the rollout of its innovative location technology to Emergency Services in the UK and South Africa in 2019, and Australia in 2020.  A number of Emergency Services across the UK have been using what3words for nearly two years. It is relied upon by them on a daily basis, particularly in critical incidents, and has been credited with saving lives in regions up and down the country. Using what3words addresses gives callers a simple way to describe precisely where help is needed and allows emergency response crews to get resources straight to the scene. It has helped to rescue people from a range of incidents including locating victims of rural road accidents, people trapped in flood waters, kidnap victims and critically injured hikers and cyclists.

Springtime in Canada is notorious for its changeable weather, locals and tourists alike can find themselves lost or in difficulty due to the temperamental climate, so it’s important to be well-prepared when venturing off the beaten-track.

Emergencies can happen anywhere, from an accident along an unmarked stretch of road to an incident at a specific building entrance or industrial area. In an emergency situation, identifying precisely where help is needed is critical in order to get resources to the scene quickly. However, this can be near impossible for a caller to do if they get into trouble in an area with no address, no memorable landmark or an address that simply isn’t good enough to accurately describe where they are.

In these moments, emergency services are forced to waste precious time and resources trying to locate the person in need of help. At best, this can be frustrating, and at worst waste crucial minutes that are the difference between life and death. Prior to using what3words, heavy resources would have to be dispatched – such as a large search and rescue team – in order to locate the incident.

Now, in an emergency where a location is difficult to describe, 9-1-1 callers can give their what3words address from the what3words app. People who do not have the app installed will be sent a link by the 911 Operator for the Owen Sound Emergency Communications Centre to a mobile version of the site: ca.findme.w3w.co, which they can open in a mobile browser and read the three words on their screen to the 9-1-1 call operator. All the app requires to display you your what3words address is a GPS signal. These three words can then be used by the 911 dispatchers to identify the precise location and direct resource to exactly where it is required.

Chief Ambrose of the Owen Sound Police Service commented that “Being able to use what3words is going to make a huge difference, especially in life-threatening situations.  For anyone who finds themselves lost, injured or in need of help in an unfamiliar location, trying to communicate where help is needed just using visual descriptions of what they can see, or trying to remember what direction they were heading, can be very stressful. For the person taking the call in our dispatch centre, the information is not always accurate and this can make coordinating the appropriate response very challenging. Our dispatch team can now ask for a precise what3words address, or send an SMS with a link to what3words to a caller who doesn’t know where they are, meaning we can save precious time responding to emergencies and helping callers much more easily.”

Chris Sheldrick, CEO of what3words says ‘Every month, people all around the world struggle to communicate their location to emergency services. This leads to crucial minutes and sometimes hours lost when trying to save lives. It’s exciting to hear that the Owen Sound Police Service Emergency Communications dispatchers are starting to use what3words and we are looking forward to working with them as they embrace new technologies, like ours, to help save lives.’

Individuals are using the what3words app to navigate the world more easily and to meet friends in places without addresses such as parks, beaches or at crowded festivals. what3words addresses are being used by running clubs, hikers, sailors, and by hotels to guide guests to their entrance without complicated written directions.

As well as being potentially life-saving for people who find themselves in an Emergency situation, a number of familiar brands and businesses – from hotels, to logistics companies  – have adopted what3words addresses as an easy and helpful way to explain their location to their visitors and deliver parcels more efficiently.

For outdoor enthusiasts and adventure seekers, Avenza Maps and the Namii app both work offline and include a what3words feature, providing an innovative way to discover remote spots in the wilderness, that may previously have been hard to describe, share or navigate to with precision – all without the need for a data connection.

Mercedes-Benz were the first automotive manufacturer in the world to offer what3words via their onboard navigation system, enabling drivers to reach an exact destination simply by inputting three simple words by voice or text. In fact, Daimler, the parent company of Mercedes-Benz, invested in what3words at a group level.

About what3words

Find your what3words address here.

Co-founded in London in 2013, what3words is the simplest way to talk about location. The system covers the entire world, never needs updating, and works offline. A what3words address is a human-friendly way to share very precise locations with other people, or to input them into platforms and machines such as ride-hailing apps or e-commerce checkouts. It is optimised for voice input and contains built-in error prevention to immediately identify and correct input mistakes.

The free what3words app, available for iOS and Android, and the online map enable people to find, share and navigate to what3words addresses in over 40 languages to date. Millions of what3words addresses are in use around the world, with thousands of businesses using them to save money, be more efficient and provide a better customer experience. what3words is integrated into apps, platforms and websites, with just a few lines of code. Products are available for free or for a nominal fee for qualifying NGOs. Its partners include Mercedes-Benz, Triumph Motorcycles, Premier Inn and The AA.

what3words has a team of over 100 people, across offices in London UK, San-Francisco USA, Johannesburg ZA and Ulaanbaatar Mongolia. The company has raised over £45 million in capital from investors such as Intel, Aramex, Deutsche Bahn, SAIC and the Sony Investment Fund.





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