#3WordsSaveLives: ER24 announces a partnership with revolutionary location technology “what3words” to improve response times

Written by on August 20, 2019


Today, technology company what3words announces the rollout of its innovative location technology to South Africa’s premier emergency medical care provider, ER24, enabling faster response times in case of an incident.

Using a what3words address in an emergency gives callers a simple way to describe precisely where they need help, and allow ER24 to get resources straight to the scene.

what3words is a simple way to talk about location. They have divided the world into 3m squares and given each one a unique 3 word address using 3 words. ///rally.latches.steams, for example, will take you to a precise spot in at the Johannesburg Botanical gardens. The app is free to download for both iOS and Android, or by browser, and works offline – making it ideal for use in areas with an unreliable data connection. The what3words address format is also consistent anywhere in the world, and available in 36 languages including isiZulu, Afrikaans and isiXhosa.

Emergencies can happen anywhere, from a road accident in the middle of rural Limpopo to an incident outside one of the gates at Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban. In an emergency situation, identifying precisely where help is needed is critical – and this can be near impossible if you are in an area with no address or if that address isn’t good enough to describe exactly where you are. If you didn’t know where you were you might turn to your phone to try and locate yourself via a pin on a map – but imagine trying to describe your pin to someone over an emergency 084 124 call.

In a medical emergency, ambulance response times are critical to saving lives. But too often, emergency services are forced to waste precious time and resources trying to locate the person in need of help. At best, this can be frustrating, and at worst waste crucial minutes that are the difference between life and death.

In South Africa, the solution can be particularly effective for emergencies in informal settlements, farms, beaches or even the coastline or rural areas where it can be complex, imprecise and difficult to communicate location without any addresses or points of reference nearby. And even in a well-addressed town or city, the person in distress may not be familiar with their surroundings, or able to share a location with accuracy – for example, the description “near Moses Mabhida Stadium” will not help get emergency services to get to the right place.

“Some of the informal settlements we get called out to do not have street names. Usually, someone will meet us at a particular landmark and show us how to get from there. But, having an application that will be able to take us to the exact spot will curb having to drive up and down a road in search of the scene. It will make a change to our response times and make our jobs a little easier too,” said Jaco Kaalsen, of ER24 Bloemfontein.

Ben Johnson, ER24’s CEO adds, “As the premier private emergency medical care provider in South Africa, we value technology and innovation and therefore we continue to strive to stay ahead of the curve. We are pleased to be the first private emergency medical service in South Africa to partner with what3words.

The partnership with what3words will help emergency medical services such as ER24 to locate people where physical addresses are not always possible. In an emergency, getting accurate information about the location is crucial, and by offering one more way to share your location we continue to put our patients first.

We want to ensure that ER24 alongside what3words are giving people even more ways to get real help, real fast.”

Lyndsey Duff, South African Country Manager, says: “Being in urgent need of help and not being able to describe your accurate location can be incredibly stressful for the person involved, and a really difficult situation for ER24.

By using what3words, everyone has a reliable and simple way to talk about location, which has broader implications on not only emergency services, but day-to-day life. It makes it easier to meet up with friends in a crowded place, guide guests to a parking lot, receive deliveries without the need to provide extra directions and explore rural areas without an address.”

what3words began operations in South Africa in 2017, and is now accepted across a number of platforms including the iStore, and is also used by the Automobile Association of South Africa to help locate its members needing roadside assistance. Zulzi now allows customers to get groceries delivered within one hour to their what3words address and The Platter’s Wine Guide has listed the address for over 700 wineries in its 2019 guide.




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