what3words helps police find stolen safe and locate a suspect
- Credit: what3words
A potentially lifesaving location app has already been used by police to effectively pinpoint lost people and property – including a stolen safe found dumped in the middle of the countryside.
Suffolk and Norfolk police were the first forces in the country to fully integrate the what3words app into daily operations - with officers on the ground, and control room staff, able to find locations within a three-metre square.
Both forces were involved in an initial emergency service trial of the app, which encodes geographic coordinates into a unique combination of three words - like backs.dining.pose for the centre spot of Ipswich Town's Portman Road stadium, or hugs.trendy.years for Britain's most easterly point, in Lowestoft.
The app has already been used to guide officers to remote locations which lack easily identifiable reference points.
Examples include a firearms incident where what3words was used to establish the location of an offender who had given a false address, and an incident where a member of the public had come across a safe believed to have been from stolen during a burglary.
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Superintendent Matthew Rose, head of specialist operations for Norfolk and Suffolk police, said both forces were at the vanguard of piloting what he considers a potentially lifesaving tool.
"Other emergency services are now using it, but we were the first to fully integrate it into every mobile device and within the control room," he added.
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"It's an extra tool allowing us, especially in large rural areas, to help better describe locations.
"It could be an officer talking to the control room, but equally, a member of the public who doesn't know their exact location.
"It can get help to people quickly, in a location that's tough to describe.
"Anyone can download it, and I'd encourage everyone to do so, and get familiar with it.
"Maybe use it in your everyday life to find your location anywhere on the globe."
A spokesman for what3words said: "One year on from our initial piloting, we know being able to use what3words to identify locations for emergency situations is proving incredibly effective, with over 75 services, including Suffolk Constabulary, now using the technology.
"It's fantastic to see how diverse and widespread the stories of where we've helped people in need struggling to say where they are."