Emergency 999 calls to benefit from what3words partnership

Posted on April 1, 2021 by Jonathan Symcox

what3words

UK emergency control rooms are to benefit from a ground-breaking partnership between emergency response data platform RapidSOS and location technology company what3words. 

Through the RapidSOS Platform, emergency call handlers in the UK will be able to gather critical health data from callers as well as their accurate what3words location.  

This will provide police, ambulance, and fire services with the information needed to quickly dispatch the appropriate resources to the caller in need and can ultimately save lives. The first service in the UK to test the concept will be Avon & Somerset Police. 

The RapidSOS Platform securely and automatically links life-saving emergency intelligence data from connected devices directly to the UK’s emergency services. Meanwhile, what3words has given every 3-meter square a unique identifier made of three random words.  

This means that any location can be communicated using just three words. what3words provides the accuracy of GPS coordinates in a human-friendly format that is easier to communicate and less prone to error than long strings of numbers. 

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Communicating the right location in an emergency is crucial, but not always easy. Street addresses today do not always point to precise locations, and many parts of the UK do not have an address, such as parks, forests and coastlines.  

Moreover, control rooms in the UK and around the world rely on the limited information a phone call can provide, resulting in delays in dispatching responders to the scene. 

With this partnership, when a caller dials 999, the what3words address of the caller’s current location will be securely delivered to the emergency control room via RapidSOSCall handlers will be able to see this information displayed directly on their screens via the RapidSOS Platform.  

RapidSOS will continue to update the call handler with the caller’s latest what3words address, in the event that the caller is mobile. Emergency call handlers can then pass the what3words address to field responders.  

The caller does not need to have the what3words app on their smartphone in order for this information to be relayed via RapidSOS. 

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RapidSOS and the integration with what3words will take location data to the next level for emergency services,” said Sam Sheppard, Command and Control Systems Manager at Avon & Somerset Police. 

This partnership will provide critical location information quickly and accurately when it’s needed the most. Our control room will be better equipped to deal with calls for help when the location information may have previously been a challenge to get.  

We will have the technology that will allow us to dispatch quickly to an accurate location with a range of supplementary information that will inform our units prior to arriving on scene. This will save valuable time and save lives.” 

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