Oshawa is the first fire department in Canada to use a new location technology that uses three words to pinpoint exactly where an emergency call is coming from.

The UK-based technology, called ‘what3words’, divides the world into a grid of 3x3 metre squares and assigns each square with a unique three-word identifier. The encoding is permanently fixed allowing dispatchers to find the precise location of an incident.

During an emergency, people can use the app or online find me map to find their precise location by zooming into the map grid. Once they find their location, a three-word identifier will be shown which can then be relayed to a dispatcher.

This allows callers to quickly identify their location, specifically when there is no address, landmarks, or if the street address is not accurate.

“In Oshawa, where we have almost 410 hectares of trails and greenspace, as well as large rural and remote expanses of country north of the city, ‘what3words’ is a powerfully accurate tool that will help us dispatch the right resource directly to the scene of any emergency,” Oshawa Fire Services Chief Derrick Clark said in a news release issued Tuesday.

Emergency and 911 call centres around the world have used the new technology and Canada’s first rescue using ‘what3words’ was recently used by RCMP in Manitoba, where officers

were able to locate a pair of hikers who became lost while exploring the rocky lakeside trails of Whiteshell Provincial Park.

The free app is available for iOS and Android users in over 40 languages.

“We’re proud to offer this innovative and groundbreaking service to our community,” Oshawa Mayor Dan Carter said in a written statement. “‘what3words’ will tell emergency services exactly where you are. I would encourage everyone to download the free app- it could save your life!”