Suffolk Constabulary using smart technology to help locate people in need | Suffolk Constabulary

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Suffolk Constabulary using smart technology to help locate people in need

Police officer

Suffolk officers are now using a smart location app to help them track down people in need.

The location technology, known as What3Words, divides the world into 3m x 3m squares and allows users to share their exact location using a unique three word address.

Superintendent Matt Rose said: "After working with the developers of this app, Suffolk is one of the first forces nationally to fully integrate this potentially life-saving technology, giving our Contact and Control Room and all frontline staff access. 

"It can often be difficult to describe exactly where help is needed, What3Words overcomes this, allowing us to quickly identify and direct resources anywhere. For anyone with a smartphone, it’s free and easy to use.”

The app is already being utilised across the force but the rural team already believe this technology is an "invaluable tool” as it assists officers to find people in distress, even in the most remote locations.

Sergeant Brian Calver, of the Rural Policing Team, said of the app: "By having such accurate information, it cuts out ambiguity, mistranslation of an area and allows us to get to exactly where we need to be.

"This app can also be extremely useful for reporting incidents such as hare coursing and other forms of poaching, as well as night hawking. All of these crimes are carried out in remote rural areas where there may be no landmarks or road names to link them to.

"I would strongly urge anybody that lives, works or even just visits rural areas, to install this app as you never know just when you may need it.”

What3Words is free-to-use and is available as an app and on the developer’s website. The technology has also been integrated into Suffolk Constabulary's Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD) system, which means the public can now share their three word address when contacting the police.

The app converts complex GPS coordinates or nearby road names into unique three word addresses for each square. For example ///rift.outwards.thankful (https://map.what3words.com/rift.outwards.thankful) refers to a precise point next to a road near Oulton Broad, Lowestoft.

Suffolk's Police and Crime Commissioner, Tim Passmore said: "This sounds like a very simple and effective solution to enable emergency services to locate a caller in an emergency when they are unsure where they are.

"The remoteness of some areas of our county can cause some uncertainty when it comes to locating people so anything we can do to clarify an exact position is definitely worth adopting.

"I am very pleased that Suffolk is at the forefront of using this app and I would encourage everyone to consider downloading the what3words app as you never know when you might need it.”

Chris Sheldrick – CEO and founder of What3Words, said: "Describing where things are in the countryside can get really complicated. Growing up in rural Hertfordshire I often had to wait by a roadside to flag down vehicles that would otherwise sail past our farm entrance. It troubles me to think that if an emergency had happened out in a barn, or if someone was caught in running machinery, we would have struggled to tell emergency services where help was needed fast enough to avoid extensive damage or fatalities.

"Today, anyone can download the What3Words app. It's free, it's simple to use and one day it might make sure you get the help you need, where you need it. We have been working closely with Suffolk Constabulary to get What3Words enabled in its control room and will support their efforts to raise awareness amongst the local community.

"It's incredible to see UK forces like Suffolk embrace technology to respond effectively and quickly to people in need.”

For more information about What3Words and how to download the app onto your device, visit: https://what3words.com/

To report an incident, contact the force by visiting: http://www.suffolk.police.uk/contact-us/report-something or call 101.

Alternatively, call 999 in the event of an emergency.