Three words are all it takes for RCMP to nail down the location of a lost and injured hiker or skier – thanks to a phone app that syncs their GPS coordinates.
Those stranded in the B.C. backcountry do not need to have the app downloaded to reap its life-saving benefits. All they have to do is call 911.
What3Words – first created in the U.K. in July 2013 – does the rest.
“All you have to do is click the link to provide the information to our 911 dispatcher,” explained RCMP Sgt. Peter DeVries in a March 9 news release.
The app pinpoints the person’s phone location to a three-meter range.
What3Words, “divided the earth up into a gridwork of three-meter squares, each assigned a random sequence of three words. Those three words label the square in which a person is standing,” Devries said.
This month, North Vancouver RCMP used the app’s algorithm to find hikers stranded in the North Shore mountains.
Officers forwarded app coordinates to search and rescue crews who were able to quickly reach the group and provide help, said DeVries.
Other first responders in B.C that have reported using the app include Surrey Regional Fire Dispatch and Squamish Search And Rescue.
Whether it’s a lost child with a cell phone, someone on a sinking boat up Indian Arm or a person stifled by witnessing a crime, Devries said, “all they have to do is click a link and we’ll be able to pinpoint where they are.”
What3Words has been credited to saving the lives of outdoor enthusiasts in countries including the United States, Australia and Scotland.
The app’s functions are dependant upon a person’s mobile phone having access to cell service.
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.
Want to support local journalism? Make a donation here.