ER24 announces a partnership with revolutionary location technology what3words to improve response times

Technology company what3words has mapped the world into a grid of 3m x 3m squares, and given each one a unique what3words address - made of three words from the dictionary. For example, ///nerds.sponsored.oats will take you to the entrance of the Table Mountain Aerial Cableway

  • ER24 Contact Centre agents across South Africa are now using the system to respond to incidents more effectively
  • Contact Centre agents are able to receive a what3words address and dispatch help to that precise location

Johannesburg, 19th August 2019, 0900 SAST: 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 get help emergency services to get to the right place.

“Some of the informal settlements we get called out 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 of what3words, says of the partnership, ‘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. We encourage everyone to download the app to make sure they are ready to quickly share their accurate what3words address, should the worst happen. It’s free, it’s simple to use, and one day it might just make sure you get the help you need, when you need it.’ 

Lyndsey Duff, South African Country Manager, ‘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.

Download the what3words app for free for both iOS and Android, or by browser and check your exact address even while offline. 


Notes to editor

Find your what3words address here.

Co-founded in London in 2013 by Chris Sheldrick, what3words is the simplest way to talk about location. The system covers the entire world, never needs updating, and works offline. A what3words address is a human-friendly way to share very precise locations with other people, or to input them into platforms and machines such as autonomous cars or e-commerce checkouts. It is optimised for voice input and contains built-in error prevention to immediately identify and correct input mistakes.

The free what3words app, available for iOS and Android, and the online map enable people to find, share and navigate to  a what3words addresses in 36 languages to date. A what3words address can be used in one language and then be switched instantly into any other supported language, and even looked up in one language and shared in another. what3words can be easily integrated by businesses, governments and NGOs into apps, platforms or websites, with just a few lines of code, and products are available for free or for a nominal fee for qualifying NGOs. Its partners include Mercedes-Benz, Ford, Domino’s Pizza, Lonely Planet, Airbnb and Cabify.

what3words has a team of over 100 people, across offices in London UK, San-Francisco USA, Johannesburg ZA and Ulaanbaatar Mongolia. The company has raised over £40 million in capital from investors such as Intel, Aramex, Deutsche Bahn, SAIC and the Sony Investment Fund.