what3words: Emergency services urge people to download life-saving app

A clever app originally created due to confusion over postcodes is being used successfully in emergency situations.

By Rhona Shennan
Thursday, 15th August 2019, 3:41 pm
Will you download the app? (Photo: Shutterstock)
Will you download the app? (Photo: Shutterstock)

The emergency services are now urging people to download it, as it could save your life one day.


Called what3words, the app divides the entire world up into 57 trillion 10 foot by 10 foot squares. Each square is then given an individual and unique ‘address’, made up of three random words.

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Will you download the app? (Photo: Shutterstock)

The app is particularly useful for the emergency services if someone in need of help is in an area that they aren’t familiar with, or doesn’t have an address, like a field, forest or mountain. It is also useful in situations like an emergency at an outdoor music festival, which is a large open space and filled with people.

Instead of relying on general directions and vague descriptions, the what3words app instantly provides the unique address, allowing the emergency services to find your exact location.

From the emergency services’ end, they can type in your three word location and be given accurate directions to find you.

The app also does not need a phone signal in order to tell someone their three word location.

This app could save your life (Photo: JPIMedia)

The app has been successfully used in a variety of emergency situations, including allowing police to find a 65 year old man who became trapped after falling down a railway embankment in Sheffield, and also helping the Fire and Rescue Service to find a woman who had crashed her car and didn’t know where she was.

How to use it

Using the app is very straightforward - it’s available for free on iOS from the Apple App store here and for free on Android from the Google Play store here.Once downloaded, you’ll need to set your language, but after that, you’re good to go.

You’ll see a map, similar to Google Maps, and across the map is a grid - each grid represents a different address location.

You can click on the grid to see the location address, for example where you are right now, or you can type in an address to be given its three word address.

Unique address for famous landmarks

These are the three word addresses for some famous landmarks across the world:

Edinburgh Castle, Scotland: buck.ears.match

Eiffel Tower, France: investor.savings.lance

Leaning Tower of Pisa, Italy: sends.situated.vase

Statue of Liberty, America: planet.inches.most

Big Ben, England: clean.wider.both