RIYADH: The Saudi Red Crescent Authority (SRCA) has teamed up with a global location technology company in a bid to speed up potentially life-saving emergency response times in the run-up to Hajj.
Announcing its link-up with the geocoding app, what3words, the medical services provider said the system would help to accurately pinpoint people in need of assistance.
The partnership, launched ahead the Hajj pilgrimage season, will enable callers to use three-word addresses via the free app to describe the precise location of an incident.
Callers without the app will be sent a text message from the SRCA call room containing a link to a three-word address map and will then be asked to read the words on the screen.
Eng. Abdullelah Al-Taweel, the SRCA’s director general of information communication technology, said the app would add precision to the process of identifying locations for dispatch operations and would enhance the accuracy of the infrastructure in operations rooms which used numerous GPS tools and apps to aid emergency cases in the Kingdom, especially during Hajj season.
One of the most advanced systems in the world for emergency operations, the what3words app divides the globe into 3 x 3 square meters giving each one a unique three-word address. It is available for iOS and Android devices or by web browser, and works offline too, making it ideal for use in areas with unreliable data connection.
The three-word address format is also consistent anywhere in the world, and available in 36 languages, including Arabic, English, French and Indonesian.
Chris Sheldrick, CEO for what3words, said that needing urgent help and not being able to easily describe where you are could be very distressing for the person involved and difficult for emergency services, but today people nearly always had a mobile phone on them. “We need to use the tools at our disposal to improve public services and potentially save lives,” he added.
“What3words and the Saudi Red Crescent Authority encourage everyone to download the app to make sure they are ready to quickly share accurate location information, should the worst happen.”
Alex Fragero, the international markets director for what3words, told Arab News that the system was already used effectively in the UK and had saved lives by locating those in need, such as hostages, who did not know where they were, lost children and people involved in rural road accidents.
He described an incident in which a woman and child had become trapped upside-down in their crashed car and had called police for help. “They were totally unable to explain where they were. The police sent them the link and they opened the map site upside-down and read the three words out and they were able to be responded to,” said Fragero.
What3words began operations in Saudi Arabia in 2017 and is now accepted across a number of platforms including Easy Taxi, Virgin Megastore, Shop & Ship, and Abdul Latif Jameel, and will soon be utilized by the Saudi tourism sector to help give directions to visitors traveling in the Kingdom.