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Three words that can help police save a life

10 Sep 2019

A potential chemical spillage, a woman feeling suicidal and a potential rave are just three instances where new technology has been used to help people or prevent crime.

Cambridgeshire Constabulary started using the new app called What3Words in December.

The location technology has divided the world into 3m x 3m squares and allocated a unique three word address to each one which means anyone can refer to their exact location simply by using three words.

On 20 August, we were called to a potential chemical spillage in a mushroom tunnel in Littleport. There were reports of people with respiratory problems. Using What3Words officers were able to identify the exact location of the tunnel and share it with partner agencies.

In April the force received a call from a woman who was feeling suicidal. She needed support but was unable to share her location. Using What3Words officers were able to locate her and give her the support she needed.

When cars started arriving on farm land in the middle of the night in Linton last month, officers were dispatched and a potential rave was dispersed because officers were able to locate the exact field they were using.

Officers from the Rural Crime Action Team (RCAT) and farmers are also using the app daily to locate hare coursers across the county.

Demand Hub supervisor Rachael Sargeant who works in the contact centre 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.

“Since its introduction we have been able to dispatch officers to precise locations whether that be a field, a long stretch of rural road or large buildings.

“In an emergency every second counts.”

What3Words is free to use as an app available from the App store for both android and iOS. It can also be accessed via the What3Words website.

The technology is integrated into the software used to record incidents, which means the public can share their three word address when contacting the police.

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