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Guelph police to begin using geolocating app, What3Words

Guelph police say its use of the What3Words app will begin on March 1. Matt Carty / Global Guelph

Guelph police say it is starting to use a geolocating app called What3Words that can assist officers in locating callers during an emergency.

The mobile phone application was developed in the United Kingdom and uses a grid comprised of 57 trillion three-by-three metre squares across the world with each square containing a unique three-word combination.

Read more: What3words app increasingly being used by Ontario’s emergency services to find people who are lost

Callers who are unsure or unable to provide their location can use the app to get the combination and then provide the three words to the dispatchers.

The app does not require data as long as it has previously been downloaded. For that reason, Guelph police are urging residents to download it onto their phones.

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If someone calling police during an emergency does not have the app, the communicator can text them a link to the What3Words map.

“In an emergency, it is imperative that 911 communicators have the ability to quickly determine a caller’s exact location,” said Staff Sgt. Michael Davis, who oversees the police’s communications unit.

“What3Words is an easy and accurate way to find and share locations. It is now another tool that our 911 communicators can use to get help to people in need.”

The cellphones used by officers already have the app installed, so once responding officers have the three words, they can use the app to direct them straight to the caller.

Police said it will be helpful when responding to calls in parks or natural areas in the city.

The Guelph Fire Department and Guelph-Wellington Paramedic Service are also rolling out the use of the app.

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A number of emergency services across Canada have started using the technology as well.

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Last month, members of the Ontario Provincial Police used the technology to locate a hiker lost in Pinery Provincial Park near Grand Bend, and a few days later to find two hikers lost near Lion’s Head on the Bruce Peninsula.

Read more: Guelph police officer credited with saving man’s life

It will officially launch in Guelph on March 1 with police saying it’ll hold a challenge in which residents can download the app and practise using it to win prizes.

More details about the app can be found on the company’s website.

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