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North Vancouver RCMP launch app to help track people who are lost

Last Updated Mar 10, 2021 at 1:21 am PDT

(Courtesy North Vancouver RCMP)

North Vancouver RCMP are using an app to try and help people faster

Sgt. Peter DeVries says the 'what3words' app provides the 9-1-1 dispatcher your location within a three-metre square

But he says people should still be prepared so they don't require rescue services

NORTH VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — Mounties in North Vancouver are using an app to help find your location to try to help you faster.

The UK-based app is called What3Words and Sgt. Peter DeVries says you don’t even have to have the app on your phone.

“This is an app that … divides the earth up into a gridwork of three-meter squares over the entire surface of the globe. And each of those three squares is assigned a random sequence of three words, and those three words remain the same … those three words will be assigned to a three-meter square, in which that person is standing,” he explains.

So, all you have to do is call 9-1-1.

“[The dispatcher] can send you a link. All you have to do is click the link, and if you have access to a cell signal, you click that link, that link will provide the information to our dispatcher, who can locate you where you are within a three-metre square,” DeVries says.

Although he adds the app does not replace planning ahead if you plan to be outdoors.

“We want to be sure people understand that there are some limits to what this app can do.”

Especially in North Vancouver, where there are areas with no cell signal, DeVries says the app does work with a GPS location. So if you have the app downloaded on your phone, you can find out what your three words are for the three-meter square you’re standing in, but you’ll need a cell signal to send that information out.

Mike Danks is with North Shore Rescue and notes they have a similar tool they’ve been using for a number of years.

“It’s something the SAR world has been doing for years with the different technology, just with Connect Rocket. It’s a good thing for RCMP and it’s something that’s been in place for quite some time,” he says.

Mounties used the tool in a rescue a few months back, after a group of hikers became lost on a North Shore summit.

“Thankfully, they still had some battery left on their cell phone,” DeVries said in an earlier release.

Using the app allowed rescuers to get to the group and provide help quickly.

Ultimately both DeVries and Danks say the best tool to avoid getting lost on a hike, for example, is to know before you go.