Community Safety, News


The Timmins Police Service has recently engaged in a modern global location application to further enhance 9-1-1 Emergency Services and its ability to locate persons in need of first response assistance.

As the need for 9-1-1 services in our region to remain current and efficient, the Timmins Police 9-1-1 Communications Center has started to adopt the “what3words” system as an innovative global location service.

This technological advancement will improve the ability of 9-1-1 communicators to accurately determine the exact location of any person in distress and seeking an urgent response from police, fire, or paramedic personnel.

The “what3words” system has been launched and used successfully to help locate people in need of assistance in the UK and Australia.

Response times and the ability to accurately dispatch first responders to any given scene are crucial in terms of rendering assistance to persons in distress.  This system is engineered to remedy and enhance the ability to determine a person’s exact location.

In short, the system is based on the premise that any 3-meter square location on earth has a set of corresponding 3 words unique to that location.

Persons who have engaged this app on their cell phones will be able to determine their location by relaying the corresponding “what 3 words” to the 9-1-1 communicator who in turn will be better able to deploy first responders to that exact location.

The Timmins Police endorse the use of this app and is encouraging members of the public to download the app and so that they ae able to provide their “what3words” location in an emergency.

Every 3-meter square location in the world has been given a unique combination of three words: a what3words address.  For example, the 3 words “caveman vastly sleepless” corresponds to a water access point for Kamiskotia Lake.

Imagine a tourist visiting the area and becoming lost or experiencing a mechanical break-down and calling into 9-1-1 indicating that they are in need of assistance and are have reached the shoreline of Kamiskotia Lake.

The ability to locate the person in distress and render assistance will be significantly improved if the caller was able to relay the “what3words” coordinates: caveman vastly sleepless rather than location descriptors that are generic and vague.   The benefits are obvious and speak for themselves.

Members of the public can download the free what3words app for iOS and Android or use the online map. The app works offline making it ideal for use in the rural areas of Canada that might have a poor internet connection, such as the Kamiskotia Lake area that is enjoyed by hikers, tourists, and lovers of the great outdoors alike.

Every 3-meter square location in the world has a what3words address, and they are available in over 40 languages, including French.

The weather in North-Eastern Ontario has a notorious reputation for its unpredictable nature, local residents and tourists alike can find themselves lost or in a difficult set of circumstances due to our temperamental climate, so it’s important to be as well-prepared as possible when venturing out into remote locations.

Emergencies can happen anywhere, from an accident along an unmarked stretch of road to an incident at a specific building entrance or industrial area. In an emergency situation, identifying precisely where help is needed is critical in order to get resources to the scene quickly. However, this can be near impossible for a caller to do if they get into trouble in an area with no address, no memorable landmark or an address that simply isn’t good enough to accurately describe where they are.

In response to urgent calls for service, emergency services are forced to expend 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 can be the determining factor in the eventual outcome of the event.

Now, in an emergency where a location is difficult to describe, 9-1-1 callers can give their what3words address from the what3words app. People who do not have the app installed will be sent a link by the Timmins Police 9-1-1 Communications Center to a mobile version of the site:, which they can open in a mobile browser and read the three words on their screen to the 9-1-1 call operator.

These three words can then be used to identify the precise location and direct police, fire or paramedics to the exact location.

Timmins Police 9-1-1 Communications Manager Selena Pearce- Gauthier remarks “Being able to use what3words will be a definite benefit to any person who finds themselves in an urgent situation requiring first responder assistance.  For anyone who finds themselves lost, injured, or in need of help in an unfamiliar location, trying to communicate where help is needed by providing visual descriptions of what they can see, or trying to remember what direction they were heading, can be very misleading, stressful and time-consuming.

Our 9-1-1 communications center team members can now ask for a precise what3words address, or send an SMS with a link to what3words to save precious time responding to emergencies and helping 9-1-1 callers without delay.”