Capita plc has joined forces with location start-up what3words to help police and fire services respond to emergency incidents with precise accuracy – even when callers are unable to explain or describe where they are.

what3word’s location-finding app will be integrated directly into Capita’s control room solutions –Vision Command & Control solution. When used in conjunction with Capita’s 999eye video streaming service, emergency services will be able to access both an accurate location and a live video link of the incident.

what3words is a start-up that has divided the world into three-metre squares, giving each one a unique three-word ‘address’. This in turn means that callers can use it to share their locations.

In an emergency situation, identifying precisely where help is needed is critical – and this can be near impossible if the caller is in a location with no obvious address. Postcodes, for example, can apply to areas over one square mile and addresses are rarely unique. Rural areas pose a totally unique set of challenges; someone might be in trouble in the countryside with no roads or visible landmarks, meaning providing location information is incredibly difficult. In these moments, emergency services are forced to waste precious time and resources just trying to identify the location of the person in need of help.

Prior to using what3words, multiple and potentially expensive resources would have to be dispatched – such as a helicopter fly-over or multiple vehicles being allocated to search a rough area – in order to try to locate the caller. At best, this can be frustrating, and at worst cost crucial minutes that could be the difference between life and death.

Now, where an emergency involves a location that is difficult to find, callers with the what3words app are able to give their three-word address that can then be used by the control room to identify their precise location and direct responders exactly to where help is needed. It’s also useful for services passing the address between different communications platforms – like radios and mobiles – or between teams and other emergency services.

The integration of Capita’s 999eye and what3words into the same ‘command and control’ platform will allow dispatch personnel in control rooms to see what is happening in real-time, without having to use a separate system to look up the three-word location code.

It means services can respond more quickly, and with the right level of resources, potentially helping to save lives and reduce inefficiency.

Chris Sheldrick, Co-founder and CEO, what3words, said: “We know that being able to use what3words to identify locations for emergency situations is proving incredibly effective for services in the UK. It is therefore fantastic to have a key software provider like Capita, who many of these services use and rely upon already, building in the ability to input and discover three-word addresses as an integrated part of their Vision Command & Control solution. This means that many more emergency services can now use what3words to save time, resource and lives in emergency situations.”

Kathryn Billing, Interim Assistant Fire Chief, Cornwall Fire Service, said: “Having what3words integrated into Vision, our main mobilising system, will ultimately make this app a great asset to our Critical Control Centre. It will make it easier for us to coordinate our resources to the precise location where help is needed. With the app being integrated with our electronic systems, it will also make it easier to share key location information between our blue light colleagues, teams and partner agencies.”

The what3words app is free to download for both iOS and Android, or by browser, and works offline – making it ideal for use in areas with an unreliable data connection.

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