Disclaimer: The author or Avaya Inc. has no business agreement or financial tie to What3Words. This article is based on the interest of the author to investigate new technologies and foster the advancement of Public Safety and the use of Next Generation technology to provide a safer, more robust architecture using common technology.
Ask anyone in public safety and they will tell you that the most critical information, yet often the most elusive, is the location of the caller. Not only is the location accuracy grossly inadequate with most mobile devices today, often a caller is unaware of what their “dispatch-able address” is. This twofold problem creates an issue for public safety dispatchers. Not only do they do rely on the technology in the network to route the call correctly, but the inability of that technology to give them a discreet location puts the onus on the caller to be able to convey that information to the 911 call taker.
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For example, this morning I had breakfast at my local luncheonette. I was inside a single story commercial structure, in a strip mall environment. Google tells me that the closest cellular tower to my location is about 2185 feet away (.41 miles) – pretty close, huh?
While I’m familiar with the name of the establishment, I wouldn’t have the first clue to what the address is. I know from previous experience, having called 911 before while in this establishment, the 911 call taker only got Phase 1 level location providing the sector and cell tower centroid.
To an ordinary individual, this would seem like it would be information that was quite accurate and usable. But while the data is relevant, it is not germane to the situation. I was physically located at the Skyline Luncheonette, 129 Skyline Dr. Suite 7, Ringwood, NJ 07456, United States of America, but conveying that information to a Public Safety dispatcher would not have been an easy task for me. But fortunately, there is a better way.
What if I could convey all that location information, with 3 m² accuracy to anyone else on the planet with just three simple words? Fortunately, that is reality, and it’s available today. Don’t believe me? Well, let me prove it to you:
I was located at the three words: enjoy-ladder–oath or https://map.what3words.com/enjoy.ladder.oath
Putting those words in the What3Words app presents you with the precise location of where I was; down to the seat I was sitting in. While I don’t expect you to remember, or even know, enjoy–ladder–oath, you could quickly retrieve the location in an app, and that could be used by public safety dispatchers to understand exactly where you were.
Just to be clear, the What3Words app is NOT a location discovery technology, The App is a simple way to translate an explicit point on the planet, with 3 m2 accuracy, too anyone with an internet connection. They can then extract the longhand location and the actual geodetic information held within this ‘location container’ shorthand.
Around the world, car manufactures are also starting to take notice of this technology. Recently, Mercedes-Benz announced plans to launch “in vehicle 3 word address navigation”, following Daimler’s partnership with the What3Words addressing system.
As Next Generation Emergency Services becomes more common, and we start adding in the ability for intelligent endpoints to communicate ‘data’ instead of phone numbers, as we are restricted to with the existing archaic architecture, we need to start thinking about new efficient ways to transport the data from where it exists, to where it is needed.
To do that will require disruption to and industry that normally shy’s away from dynamic change, but that is what disruption is all about anyway, right?