Three simple words have possibly saved the lives of three lost hikers in Ontario this month.
"It’s pretty amazing when you think about it," says Cst. Rick Sadler of the Grey-Bruce O.P.P.
This past weekend, two hikers found themselves lost in the Lion’s Head Conservation Area on the Bruce Peninsula. They called 911, and were told to download a new app, called What3Words, to help police find them.
"It uses global mapping systems and it assigns three specific words to every GPS location in the province. So, as soon as the hikers were able to download the app, and turn it on, they provided the Communications Centre with those three words, and their latitude and longitude was easily located. They were found a few minutes later, safe and sound," says Sadler.
A similar story played out at the Pinery Provincial Park last Wednesday, where a lone hiker got lost, downloaded the What3Words app, and were found moments later.
"In a distressful situation, a life and death situation, where someone’s lost or injured, finding their location is key to getting them the help they need in a timely fashion. This app simply does that for us. It’s basically like location services on an iPhone, but it’s done in such a way that it pinpoints location within, I believe, it’s three square metres," says Sadler.
If you’re surprised you haven’t heard of What3Words, it’s because it just became available in the App Store last month. Sadler says it was specifically designed for emergency services to local people, and even works without data.
"It works without data services or Wi-Fi, which is incredible, really. When you could be in the middle of the woods and we can still find you, as long as you have the app downloaded," he says.
What3Words is available for free in the App Store.