Technology company What3words, which has mapped the world into a grid made up of 3m x 3m squares, with each square given three unique dictionary words, has partnered with medical care specialist ER24 to improve response times in emergencies.
The technology will allow ER24 personnel to respond to a location that doesn’t have a specific address — particularly useful in informal settlements and rural areas.
“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,” What3words said in a statement.
“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,” it said. Rally.latches.steams, for example, will take you to a precise spot in at the Johannesburg botanical gardens.
What3words works via the Web and smartphone apps and doesn’t need an Internet connection to determine your location. It is available in English, isiZulu, isiXhosa and Afrikaans.
“In a medical emergency, ambulance response times are critical to saving lives. But too often, 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,” the company said.
“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.”
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, it added.
“Some of the informal settlements we get called out to do not have street names. Usually, someone will meet us at a landmark and show us how to get there. 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,” said Jaco Kaalsen of ER24 in Bloemfontein.
What3words began operations in South Africa in 2017 and is now accepted across a number of platforms including the iStore (for deliveries), and is also used by the Automobile Association to help locate its members needing roadside assistance. — © 2019 NewsCentral Media
- Listen to a recent TechCentral podcast interview with What3words country manager Lyndsey Duff