What3Words, a grid app that helps with identifying people’s location, is getting encouragement from Rio Rancho emergency services to potentially help save lives.
“What3Words was an idea, really, to solve the issue that there is poor addressing around the world. Street addresses as we know them are just not fit for the 21st century,” Zama Jugar, public safety lead for W3W, said.
Jugar explained that the app, unlike some other location apps like Google Maps, pinpoints locations on the worldwide grid using three randomly generated words from the dictionary. Each grid square is 10 feet by 10 feet and has a random combination of three words assigned to it.
Using all the words in the dictionary, except for swear words and other inappropriate words, there are 57 trillion combinations of three words to compensate for each grid square on the world map.
“A lot of these addresses will take you to the wrong place. And if you are trying to meet a friend in a very big field or you’re going to a big festival, it can be difficult to find exactly where your friends are,” Jugar said.
While many people have been concerned about the privacy of such apps that track your location, Jugar says W3W does not track people using the app. Instead it is a more defined map people can use to find others or specify their exact location. This location can be anywhere, including deserts, lakes, streets, fields and rivers.
The app also does not require cell service or WiFi to work, so if a person is in the middle of nowhere, they can contact authorities to help them.
What3Words is free for users and emergency services. The company gets its money by partnering with corporations that can use the app.
Jugar says several car companies are already adding the app to their software.
“We do work with a lot of car companies around the world including Mercedes-Benz, Land Rover and Lamborghini if you can afford it,” Jugar said.
Emergency services, such as Rio Rancho Fire and Rescue, are encouraging use of the app because it can help them find someone in need.
“If you are in a situation, on a hiking trail or are paddle boarding, and you need help, you can find yourself with just three words. So in a 911 scenario, instead of saying, ‘I am in the middle of a lake’ or ‘I don’t know where I am,’ you can say, ‘I am at table, chair, spoon; please, I need help,'” Jugar explained.
The app is not meant to replace normal 911 services but to supplement them. The company is seeing a massive uptake of the app with emergency services across the United States.
“The dispatch center encourages everyone to download and use the free @what3words app. It has proven to be an invaluable tool for dispatchers to locate callers in remote areas and can be utilized between family and friends when trying to locate each other at big events like concerts,” RRFR said on Facebook.
When it comes to the response time of EMS, sometimes minutes can mean life or death. Jugar says the app can help with that.
The What3Words app can be found online and in app stores for both android and iPhone users.