Officers across Lincolnshire using potentially life-saving new app to help pinpoint people in need.

New app to help Lincolnshire Police officers pinpoint people in need.
New app to help Lincolnshire Police officers pinpoint people in need.

Officers across Lincolnshire are using a new app to help pinpoint people in need.

The location technology called What3Words has divided the world into 3m x 3m squares. Each square has been allocated a unique three word address which means anyone can refer to their exact location simply by using three words.

Emergencies can happen anywhere, from a road collision in the middle of our countryside to an incident outside one of the gates at Wembley stadium. 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.

Lincolnshire Police Chief Inspector Steve Williamson said: “Being able to identify a caller’s exact location is incredibly important. When incidents are reported, there is sometimes no easily identifiable landmark or postcode. Trying to establish exactly where these people are can result in valuable minutes being lost.

“With What3Words we can quickly pinpoint where that caller is within a 3m x 3m square. This means that no matter where they are – be it in a field, staying in a caravan on holiday, on the beach, lost or involved in a road traffic collision in an unknown rural area, we will be able to locate them.

“I would ask everyone who has a smart phone to download the app, ask your family, friends and neighbours to download it.”

So far the technology has been used to locate a suspicious package on Skegness beach. Fortunately, the package was located and not found to be suspicious.

The technology has already been rolled out across other forces and has proved a vital tool for locating people in an emergency.

In one incident, Bedfordshire Police used What3words to locate a mother and her child who had been involved in a car accident in which her vehicle had entered a ditch. The car could not be seen from the road, but after pulling herself and her four year old daughter from the car the mother called the police. The mother had no idea where she was but was advised by the call centre to download the What3words app via a link sent to her phone. The mother downloaded the app and obtained her three unique words which led officers to her.

Inspector Williamson added: “Having this type of technology integrated within our Command and Control system will change the way we are able to deal with incidents where the location isn’t known. We are moving away from the old style questioning - ‘Where have you come from?’, ‘Where are you going?’, ‘What can you see?’ etc. These questions take time and aren’t always that accurate. Asking for a three word address or sending an SMS so they can easily provide their 3 word address, has will mean we have saved valuable time locating incidents.

"The Control Room staff that have used what3words for an emergency call, have said how easy it is, and they were able to find the location a lot quicker than they previously would have.”

Police and Crime Commissioner Marc Jones said: “This innovation is another huge step forward in our efforts to keep the people of Lincolnshire safe.

“We have already invested in a cutting edge command and control system and, along with this new app, will mean the force can get the right officers with the right equipment to the right place quicker than ever before.

“It is another fine example of how Lincolnshire is using innovation to create a 21st century police force equipped with the best technology to protect communities and residents.”

How to download

What3words is available to download as a free mobile app for both iOS and Android from the Playstore. This works entirely offline in multiple languages.