What three words can help you get from point A to point B? What three words can help identify your location in an emergency?
Picture this. You and some friends are on a trail, any trail. An accident occurs, and you need help. What three words can help local emergency services make this rescue successful?
In another scenario, you want to meet for an organized hike such as the Tuesday Morning Ramble? What three words can ensure everyone meets at the correct location?
Ok, this is not a quiz. What3Words is a geocoding system designed by its British builders to identify any worldwide location with a resolution of about 3 metres with a three-word code. The three-word code is a conversion of the location’s latitude and longitude coordinates.
The application is available for both Apple and Android devices, free of charge, from your Apple or Android online app store.
“For hikers, this is the way of the future,” said Bruce Graham of the Avon Trail. As trail captain, he plans to note all Avon Trail access points as three-word codes.
“At some point, I hope to get these codes onto the Avon Trail Guidebook and the ONDAGO Avon Trail phone app,” he said. “It is much easier than a string of GPS numbers to enter, and one is less likely to make a mistake,” he added.
Since you do not require a Wi-Fi connection to use What3Words, emergency services like the OPP recommend hikers have this app on their phones.
Over the past three months, incidents illustrate how emergency services have leveraged their ability to assist people on a snowmobile trail and a hiking trail. After receiving a call from an injured snowmobiler riding on Lake Couchiching, the injured person could not identify his exact location. OPP emergency services instructed the person to download the app to his phone, which he could do. No need for Wi-Fi for this task. He was then told how to locate the three-word location on the What3Words app screen, which he did and relayed to the info over the phone. Crews subsequently found him. A hiker lost on her own in Pinery Provincial Park called the OPP. Unable to identify her GPS coordinates, she, too, was instructed to download the app to her phone. She then relayed her three-word location code and was later located by a rescue crew. The OPP has built the application into their computer emergency dispatch systems and can convert the three-word locations into latitude and longitude coordinates. It can be used offline without mobile data so long as the app is on a user’s phone.
I downloaded the app from the Apple store to my Apple phone. You will see the familiar blue circle indicator showing your current location for users of the Google Maps or ONDAGO Avon Trail phone app. The search bar will show you the three-word code for your exact location. The default screen view is a grid. Use your fingers to widen the perspective, adding more grids in the picture. Tap another grid. You will see the three-word location address change to reflect that grid. Tap the search bar, enter a place name or a street address. Next, select the correct search result. Next, change the screen view to satellite view by clicking in the satellite circle to your screen’s bottom right. Now find the actual house address on the street. Next, tap a grid to be shown the three-word address. You are now ready to navigate this location should you choose—Tap Navigate button at the center bottom of the What3Words screen. Select your preferred navigation app.
(For a quick visual overview of how to use this app, click HERE.)
What if you wanted to share this go-to location with someone else? Hit the Share button bottom left on the What3Words screen, select your preferred share method and continue.
You can save your three-word addresses for later retrieval and re-use.
Another reason for this application’s popularity is that the what3word addresses are easy to remember and say over the phone or radio. They’re also quicker and easier to type than a regular street address. They’re designed for speech recognition technology, making them easy to input correctly into voice-enabled devices or vehicles.
Please take my advice. Load this free application onto your mobile phone and try it out for yourself. Like having the right clothing, water and food snacks for your next adventure, including What3Words in your day pack will have you feeling safer.