Canadian Firefighter Magazine

Fire departments in Perth County, St. Marys and the City of Stratford are now using what3words technology

By Municipality of North Perth   

Department News News emergency preparedness fire department First Responders Ontario

Apr. 26, 2024, Listowel, Ont. – To find people more easily in an emergency, 911 dispatchers for the municipalities of North Perth, Perth East, West Perth, portions of Perth South, The Town of St. Marys and the City of Stratford are now utilizing a new location technology called what3words.

what3words is an easy way to talk about location. Every three-metres square in the world has been assigned a what3words address. It is a unique combination of three words, such as ///frizz.empty.blot that will take you to the front door of Stratford City Hall or ///showdown.sticks.clash which will take you to the exact spot of the Listowel Clock Tower.

The technology is available in 60 languages and can be used anywhere in the world. To date, what3words is available to over 50 emergency communication centres across Canada, with a presence in eight provinces and two territories.

Using what3words addresses gives callers a simple way to describe precisely where help is needed and allows emergency response crews to get resources directly to the scene. It has helped to rescue people from a range of incidents including locating victims of rural road accidents, people trapped in flood waters, kidnap victims and critically injured hikers and cyclists.


Now, in an emergency, where a location is difficult to describe, 9-1-1 callers can give their what3words address from the app. People who do not have the app installed will be sent a link by the 911 Operator to a mobile version of the site. They can then open it in a mobile browser and read the three words on their screen to the 9-1-1 call operator. All the app requires to display your what3words address is a GPS signal. These three words can then be used by the 911 dispatchers to identify the precise location and direct resources to exactly where it is required. Every second an emergency service searches for a caller could mean their chances of a positive outcome is reduced.

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