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'Enormous value' new technology can bring to policing


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Geocoding app divides our world into 3m x 3m squares.

what3words: Mapping a route to safety

what3words: Mapping a route to safety

Date - 21st June 2019
By - Nick Hudson - Police Oracle

 

Forces are turning to a new hi-tech app being hailed a “fantastic” double boon in saving lives and precious time for overstretched and under-resourced officers on the frontline.

The location technology is proving “invaluable” for finding people who need assistance, but may not know where they are, with pinpoint accuracy.

It’s called what3words and it has effectively divided the globe into 3m x 3m squares.

Each square has been given a unique three word address, which means anyone can refer to their exact location simply by using the three words.

The geocoding system means police call handlers can send a text including a link to the what3words browser site, and whoever has contacted can see their location, and read out the corresponding three words. 

Forces can then dispatch appropriate resources to the right place.

Joe Harwood, Atlas Court dispatcher, explains when it could be used: “Emergencies can happen anywhere, in the middle of the countryside, or in a confusing urban area that you can’t describe in any great detail.

“These are the scenarios when we can turn to what3words and save precious time.” 

Forces across the country are already reporting success stories.

In West Yorkshire, what3words has been used to pinpoint the location of serious road traffic collisions; Humberside Police found a vulnerable domestic abuse victim; while officers from Bedfordshire Police, along with colleagues from Bedfordshire Fire and Rescue Service, used the app to trace and rescue a woman who had slipped into waist-deep water.

South Yorkshire Superintendent Bob Chapman, head of force communications, said: “There are occasions where we get calls from people, who have found themselves in emergency situations with no idea where they are.

“This technology is a fantastic, additional tool that we can use to quickly and efficiently locate people who need our help.” 

Superintendent Nick Lyall, Bedfordshire’s lead for what3words, said: “These cases demonstrate the enormous value this new technology can bring to policing and the safeguarding work we do every day.

“A huge amount of effort often goes into locating people in rural locations. what3words can remove hours of police time from this process and allows officers to get back onto the frontline.

“The new technology enables us to get help to where it is needed, as quickly as possible. Every minute counts in an emergency so it could really help save lives.”

Chris Sheldrick, co-founder and CEO of what3words, added: “Being in need of urgent help and not being able to easily describe where you are can be very distressing for the person involved and a really difficult situation for emergency services.

“Today people nearly always have their phone on them. We need to use the tools at our disposal to improve public services and potentially save lives.” 

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I saw this coming out and I thought, “this would be great, and makes total sense, which means we won’t get it and we’ll keep using stupid broken systems that don’t work”.

 

It’s a great principle, but, I can’t see how it’ll work in situations where people are panicking, not making any sense, don’t have any signal, etc etc etc. It needs to be integrated to the call handling system somehow.

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21 hours ago, Mazza said:

 

 

It’s a great principle, but, I can’t see how it’ll work in situations where people are panicking, not making any sense, don’t have any signal, etc etc etc. ...

Absolutely right. 

Also, it wouldn't work because scientific studies have shown that people who call the police more than once a year are, on average, 10 times more stupid than average*.

 

*FACT 

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Our mapping system is garbage and always has been. I have used 3 words loads, lots of rural locations etc and being able to pinpoint is awesome. 

Will the public use it in an emergency? Possibly not, but after, perhaps. Finding abandoned vehicles, broken down, sus packages, all sorts. 

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On 22/06/2019 at 19:50, SimonT said:

Our mapping system is garbage and always has been.

 

Ours is great.  They always know when you're grabbing a quick brew or having a pee.  "Alpha85 we can see you're free, got a little job for you"  on the other side of town on a grade 3 that is only an hour old. 

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On 22/06/2019 at 19:13, stewie_griffin said:

Absolutely right. 

Also, it wouldn't work because scientific studies have shown that people who call the police more than once a year are, on average, 10 times more stupid than average*.

 

*FACT 

I've called 999 several times this year.. 🤔

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