Opp launches use of What3words App

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Mobile app helps first responders find 9-1-1 callers who don’t know their location

The Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) is announcing that, as of the beginning of the month, it will be using the mobile application what3words in its Provincial Communications Centres (PCCs). In an emergency situation, if a caller contacts an OPP PCC and doesn’t know where they are, the app will help call-takers pinpoint the caller’s location so that OPP officers can quickly respond and more accurately know where to find the person(s) in need.

Use of the app will benefit both frontline OPP officers and PCC staff. Through its global mapping system, the app labels every three squared metres with a unique three-word location tag. The PCC call taker is able to enter the three words into the system, which converts the tag into latitudinal and longitudinal coordinates. With the proper coordinates in hand, the PCC can direct officers to the precise location of the person in need.

When a member of the public contacts an OPP PCC, the call-taker will ask them if they are familiar with the app and if they have it downloaded onto their device. If they don’t have the app already downloaded on their phone, the call-taker can send callers a link that will automatically show them their three-word location tag. This process requires minimal cellular and data signals for the caller’s phone to first receive the link and then for them to open and load their location tag from it. If a caller already has the app downloaded on their device, it works without internet or data, so they can still provide the PCC with their location code even in locations without a cellular signal.

The process will assist OPP officers in locating parties in remote and forested areas where signal is limited and on vast waterways. The use of technology can offer many benefits and the OPP is proud to incorporate progressive tools such as this one to assist with its goal of a safer Ontario for everyone. The OPP is encouraging members of the public to download the free app in case of emergency.

“The what3words app offers precise location information when a caller cannot describe, or does not know, where they are. This exciting technology may help save precious time in an emergency and enable a more rapid frontline response.” – A/Chief Karen Meyer

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