Austin EMS will use location app to respond to ACL

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Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

A location-sharing app gaining popularity in the United States will aid emergency response efforts at the Austin City Limits music festival.

Driving the news: Austin-Travis County EMS Manager recommended download for festival-goers the what3words app to help 911 responders find the precise location of someone in a crowd.

Why is this important: Launched by a London-based startup, the free tool simplifies how people can share their location in an emergency.

How it works: What3words can be downloaded on iPhone and Android devices, or accessed through a web browser.

  • The tool divides the world into three-meter squares and assigns each square a name consisting of three words.
  • People dialing 911 in Austin can provide the code to the caller if they have trouble explaining where they are.

What they say : “That’s the first piece of the puzzle: where are you?” Austin-Travis County EMS Capt. Darren Noak told Axios.

  • What3words makes it easier to relay a location, rather than numbers, by phone or radio, according to Noak.
  • Even if a user doesn’t have the app, emergency service officials can text a link to a 911 caller or quickly locate the caller’s number and estimated location using the 911 system improved in the city. Dispatch then uses the what3words unique identifier to share the precise location with the emergency response team.
  • EMS officials most often use tracking technology during rescues at sea or in the wilderness, Noak said.

And after: Subaru and Jaguar Land Rover plan to integrate the technology into select vehicles.

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