what3words - how we can locate you in an emergency


This is a phone app that is gaining popularity as a means of easily describing an exact location using 3 words. While it has many applications, one of the most useful ones is to be able to send your exact location if you are lost or have an emergency.

As the system relies on a fixed algorithm rather than a large database of every location on earth, it works on devices with limited storage and no Internet connection.

The app has given every 3m x 3m square in the world a unique 3 word address. This make a simple and accurate way to talk about location makes it easier to show where you are. The location can then be shared by text, email, whatsapp and other services.

For example, “ambushed.qualified.trickle” is the entrance to the Misbourne control centre for Endurance80. Here is a screenshot from a PC:

And here is a screenshot from an Android phone:

And finally on an Apple smart phone (slightly zoomed out!):

As you can see, it allows us to locate people very accurately.

Emergency services recommend you have the app on your phone and know how to use it before there is an emergency.


Download it now to your smartphone

Apple app store:   https://apps.apple.com/gb/app/what3words/id657878530

Google play store:   https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.what3words.android&hl=en_GB


Using what3words in Endurance80

The use of GPS type devices is not permitted on the Endurance events except in an emergency, however phones are part of the standard kit list.

While most walkers have little problem working out where they are, mission control does on occasions get phone calls from lost teams who struggle to know where they are or from teams with an emergency of some sort. It has been decided that the use of the what3words app would greatly help mission control to find lost teams and identify where they are, and speed up getting help to a team as required. It will also help simplify the transmission of locations to minibus drivers and roving marshals out on the course.

Make sure you download the application and practice using it before you have to use it in an emergency.


What to do if you need assistance or are lost

1) ensure the GPS/location services is activated on your phone.

2) open the what3words app.

3) click on the compass or find my location icon which should centre the map on your current location, show a blue dot with your GPS location and display your 3 word location (look at the map shown and zoom out to ensure the location looks correct).

4) either phone or text the emergency phone number with your location and nature of emergency. You can use the “share” function and select “message” to send the location direct from the application. If you use text, we will respond confirming receipt of your message within 5 mins, if you do not get a response please phone.


Known issues and things to remember

  1. GPS location services use more battery power so suggest you only turn them on during an emergency

  2. GPS/Location services need a clear view of the sky and time to lock on to satellites to give the most accurate location data. Getting location indoors or under trees or in the shadow of something is often slow or inaccurate so move to open area if possible.

  3. What3words does not require a phone signal to find a location but may not show map if you are in a poor phone reception area. Clearly you will need a phone signal to be able to send the location to mission control so may have to move to find a signal or use a phone on an alternative network.

  4. Ensure the app centres on you location and your location looks correct before you send it (we do not want to despatch the search team to Western Australia to look for you !)

  5. We have seen times when clicking the compass or my location icon does not centre the map or show you current GPS location (not clear why) if this happened click on “navigate” then “Compass” and a box will appear at the bottom showing “current location”

  6. Location showing on the app seems to keep changing, this is because the accuracy of the gps signal you have is poor or you are on the boarder of 2 or more 3m squares. This is not usually a big issue and moving into a clear sky area should settle the signal.


Some useful videos

Here are a few videos showing how it works: