Safety & Assurance Bulletin July 2021

What Three Location Systems?

Recently in the press ‘What3Words’ has come in for some criticism, with people quoting words that identified locations in different countries, or more worryingly, locations not too far apart with just small differences in the three words.

What Three Location Systems?

Mountain Rescue has warned the public about the reliance on mobile phone apps such as What3Words when out in the hills and advise carrying a paper map and a compass as backup.

So what does this mean for us? What3Words is a useful tool to locate places accurately, but like any tool will give poor results if not used correctly. A misquoted grid reference will also result in the wrong location being identified. The same inaccuracy obviously applies to What3Words too. Having multiple ways to locate a site is best as these can then be crossed referenced. We use Post Codes, OS Grid References and What3Words on our Emergency Response cards to maximise the chance of accurate and speedy identification of the location.

What3Words and ‘OS Locate’ are free apps that can take your location from the GPS capability of your Smartphone, even if it is out of signal. You should double check the information on Emergency Response Cards at the Pre- Commencement Meeting.

Even with a very poor signal it may be possible to text these identifiers but check for accuracy – autocorrect on phones may try to change words. If speaking to the emergency services take your time to say the words and repeat each letter to ensure correct spelling. If using Grid References or Post Codes repeat the numbers and letters. In all cases ask the person at the other end to repeat back to you what they have written down.