Hexagon, what3words can locate an incident with just 3 words

A call comes in to the 911 center reporting smoke billowing from a downtown intersection. A car is on fire.

The caller is from out of town, doesn’t know the address and can’t see any nearby street signs. Getting a dispatchable address is going to be difficult. Or it would be, if the 911 center didn’t have the what3words interface installed in its Hexagon computer-aided dispatch system.

The caller has the what3words app already installed on her smartphone, so the dispatcher asks her to open it. The caller taps an icon on her screen to locate herself using the phone’s GPS. At the top of the screen is a what3words address: ///cherry.lions.boot

The caller reads out the three words to the dispatcher, who plugs the combination into HxGN OnCall Dispatch and gets an exact location, accurate to a 10-foot by 10-foot square. Hexagon’s CAD system sends firefighters and police to the precise spot where they’re needed.

What is what3words?

what3words is a really simple way to communicate precise locations. It has divided the world into a grid of 10 feet by 10 feet (3-meter by 3-meter) squares and given each square a unique combination of three random words: a what3words address. Now every parking spot, building entrance, electric charging station or meet-up place has its own what3words address.

If a 911 caller has the what3words app, they can generate a special three-word address.

The what3words mobile app can be downloaded from Apple, Google Play or the what3words website.

Why is that important? Because street addresses, or “the closest dispatchable address,” don’t always point you exactly where you need to go. A regular address might get you to the building, but not to the exact entrance. Plus, there are many places that just don’t have an address, like parks, forests, construction sites and waterways.

While the system is useful for telling friends and family exactly how to find you for a picnic or a pre-game gathering, what3words’ partnership with Hexagon is a game changer for public safety, when finding an address quickly can be the difference between life and death.

what3words has been used thousands of times across the globe to locate people needing help. Using what3words addresses gives callers a simple way to describe precisely where help is needed and allows emergency response crews to get resources straight to the scene. It has helped to rescue people from a range of incidents, including locating victims of rural road accidents, people trapped in flood waters, kidnap victims and critically injured hikers and cyclists.

what3words is available in more than 50 languages. The app is free in the Apple App Store and Google Play Store, and you can use the online map for free at what3words.com.

How can I use what3words in HxGN OnCall?

The what3words capability within OnCall Dispatch enables emergency call handlers to enter a what3words address in the format word.word.word, serves intelligence suggestions and then displays the correct location on a map for onward communication.

To learn more about using what3words within the OnCall Dispatch system, please visit this page, which contains information and short demo videos. Read more about Hexagon’s partnership with what3words here.

To find out more about Hexagon’s Public Safety solutions, visit hxgnpublicsafety.com.

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