What 3 words could save your life

What 3 words, eh? You are alone and need aid urgently. Luckily you have your smartphone and contact Triple Zero (Australia). Now, using only three words, could you describe exactly where you are – within a couple of metres?

Fortuitously, Cornelia Gratzer was not alone when hiking on a remote part of Flinders Island, Tasmania.  She slipped and broke an ankle atop a windy cliff-face. Two companions walked for 30 minutes searching for phone coverage to call 000 for help. They got through eventually but could not describe the precise location where their friend fell. So Triple 000 operators told the friends how to download ‘What3Words’. Using GPS satellites, the app then directed rescuers to the exact 3m x 3m spot where Ms. Gratzer lay. 

What 3 words did Cornelia Gratzer’s friends use?

///murky.founding.spoonfuls were the three words Cornelia’s friends gave rescuers. We’ll bet you’re thinking: “Oh come on – how could that possibly work?” Well, you see, Ambulance Tasmania is the first rescue service in Australia to use this incredible app called ‘What3Words’. (See blog editor’s comment below)

How to download the free app:

You can download the free ‘What3Words’ app from Google Play (Android) or the App Store (Apple) and then see for yourself just where Cornelia Gratzer fell.

These two images on What 3 Words of the terrain where the hiker fell.

Default and zoom pics from ‘What3Words’ app. This shows the rugged terrain where the hiker fell. ///murky.founding.spoonfuls

Overseas, hundreds of millions are using ‘What3Words’ in 42 languages or dialects. So, to better understand how ‘What3Words’ works, please spend some time reviewing these instructions. If like us, you prefer to read from hard copy, there is a download button beside each page. Or you can print the 13 pages together after using the one download button at the end. The first page looks like this:

First page of What3Words 13-page instruction manual

‘What3Words’ instructions. 13 x A4 pages. Our advice: Download it and print it.

Here is what the creators of ‘What3Words’ say about their app.

Quote: “Now you need only three words to find or share an exact location anywhere in the world. Use it to find an apartment entrance, station exit, picnic spot, or parking space. ‘What3Words’ is a really simple way to talk about locations.”

“We have assigned each 3m square in the world a unique 3-word address that will never change. For example, /// filled.count.soap marks the exact entrance to ‘What3Words’ London headquarters. Three-word addresses are easier to say, remember, and share, and are as accurate as GPS coordinates. Nor do you need the internet. For instance, 51.520847, -0.19552100 is the same as /// filled.count.soap. Which would you rather be saying or typing?”

Blog Editor Gordon Campbell comments:

I am a huge convert to the power of “What3Words”. No wonder hundreds of millions of people overseas have had their lives improved. For instance, it takes so much less time to locate injured persons or find lost children. And there are so many other uses.

Of course, with any new technology, there will always be sceptics. My enthusiastic posts about “What3Words” have been soundly poo-pooed, or even rejected, on numerous Facebook sites. The app is free, yet one sceptic suggested the creators of “What3Words” were only interested in making a fortune selling partnerships to businesses and organisations.

Here’s what Ambulance Tasmania had to say:

In an email to me, Michael Fawcett of the Emergency and Medical Services, Ambulance Tasmania, had this to say:

“Ambulance Tasmania does not pay any fees to “What3Words”, nor is there any requirement for us to promote this application under any arrangement.   Ambulance Tasmania uses multiple external applications, including the ‘Emergency App’, standard Global Position system location devices (such as mobile phones), and is always open to using innovative technology to assist us to provide a high level of patient care in an efficient time frame.  I’m sure there will be more applications in the future that will also be utilised by Ambulance Tasmania to assist us locate and care for patients. In this case, it was “What3Words”, which recently, we have also had a success story locating another patient using this application”.

So exciting is the concept behind ‘What3Words’, I have now created a Facebook group for Australian users of the app. It’s called “Aussie What 3 Worders” and as soon as you download the app (see how to above) you can join and tell us how you use the app by clicking here.


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Ariel of beach on Flinders Island Tas . Shows northernmost point where 67yo female hiker fell, needing rescue helicopter to winch hre to safety. rescue

01/11/20 – David Briggs wrote:

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