A tool to help police identify quickly and effectively where a caller is in an emergency has been adopted by Cumbria Constabulary.
What3Words is a service which has divided the world into 3m x 3m squares and given each one a unique three-word address. For example, ///tabs.gender.northward will take you to Penrith Clock Tower.
People can download the free What3Words app or go to their website for their exact location.
Superintendent Matt Kennerley said: “We’re enthusiastic about using the system because it has the potential to significantly reduce the time between an emergency call being answered and our officers identifying exactly where someone is.
“The What3Words system is now embedded into our control room so anyone calling 999 or 101 can immediately use it to give their exact location.
“It is particularly useful in Cumbria where we have rural areas where it may be difficult to explain verbally exactly where you are. It could be particularly useful to the emergency services in a situation where someone has got into difficulty whilst walking a fell, or is involved in a collision on a stretch of the motorway.”
What3Words is free to download and free to use.
There are plans for the app to be uploaded onto officer’s phones so they can use it to give an extremely accurate and swift location for where they are on the move.
Police and Crime Commissioner, Peter McCall, said: “This is a fantastic system for everyone who lives, works and visits Cumbria.
“Cumbria hosts a large quantity of visitors who travel from across the world to partake in hillwalking, lake swimming, fell climbing etc. and it’s a very easy landscape to get lost in.
“What3Words is a brilliant app that can really save someone’s life if they do not know where they are and are in desperate need of the emergency services.
“And for those of us living in remote parts of the county where houses are often difficult to find it could help emergency services get to you quickly should you ever need them.
“I have this app on my phone it is simple to install and use, I strongly encourage everyone to download it – it might just save their life.”
Chris Sheldrick, CEO and co-founder of What3Words said: “We know that being able to use What3Words to identify locations for emergency situations is proving incredibly effective for services in the UK, with over 75 services, including Cumbria Constabulary, now using the technology.
“It’s fantastic to see the widespread stories of where we’ve helped people in need struggling to say where they are.”
1) On 8 September 2019 police were called to a report of concern for the welfare of a 16-year-old girl with mental health issues who was missing from care north of Carlisle
A care worker was having difficulty guiding officers to her isolated location but was able to provide a What3Words address and she was swiftly located.
2) On 2 September 2019, a report received of a man and his teenage son wild camping in the Coniston area when the weather turned and they became lost.
The pair were running low on phone battery but were able to access What3Words and provide their exact location, allowing mountain rescue specialists to get to them.
3) A member of the public came across a car in a ditch on a rural B road in the Kendal area. The car’s air bags had deployed but there was no sign of any driver or passengers.
The member of the public did not know exactly where they were but were able to provide a What3Words address to guide officers swiftly to the location.
What3Words is free-to-use and available as a mobile app for both iOS and Android and via the What3Words website.
In the wider region, the Lake District National Park is building 3 word addresses into its extensive collection of online resources and visitor guides, as part of its ongoing commitment to promote better accessibility and safety behaviours across the park.