What3words is an application that helps a user share their precise location. The app divides the world into units of 3 metres squared. Attributed to each unit is a unique 3-word address that will never change, irrespective of how the landscape in which that grid falls changes. 

For example lease.cotton.spine marks the door to the reception of Devon Air Ambulance Head Office, as depicted in the screenshot on the right. 

What are the benefits of using the app?

Three-word addresses are easy to say and to share, and are as accurate as GPS coordinates, which is why people are using the app to direct emergency services to the right place. 

How is Devon Air Ambulance using the What3Words app?

Our HEMs dispatchers use the 3 words given to them when receiving a call and translate these into the coordinates they need to direct the emergency aircraft to the precise location where our critical care team is needed. For those who are calling for help from remote locations and might not have the grid references to hand, this application can be very useful.

What happened to the Devon Air Ambulance app?

The charity had an app that served a similar function in that it helped to identify the location of the user so they could be more easily reached, however, the app was not able to keep up with the multiple updates required by mobile phone operating systems.

The quotations for the creation of new apps were in the region of £20k, for which we would have sought a grant to build it, but one of the further considerations is that the app would need to be updated every couple of years at significant further cost. 

That's why we are embracing the What3words app and encouraging our supporters to download it. When someone in need of help pinpoints their precise location using the app, it can save valuable minutes in getting the appropriate critical care response to the scene.

How do I download the app?

If you have an iPhone then visit the App Store, or if you have an Android then go to the Play Store, and search for what3words. The app is free to download. You will need to permit the app to access the location of your device. The app is simple to use; it will automatically identify the precise location of where you are holding the phone.

The evolution of technology such as the what3words app is an enormous help to Devon Air Ambulance and our patients. Nevertheless, in 2019 it cost £9.4 million to keep Devon's air ambulances flying. Meeting this sum would not be possible were it not for our incredible supporters. There are all sorts of ways you can support your Air Ambulances; here are some of them.