Neath Port Talbot Council is one of the first local authorities in the UK to start using innovative mobile phone technology which can help people accurately report the location of incidents such as fly-tipping, potholes or fallen trees.
The Council has partnered with British technology company what3words which has divided the entire globe into 57trillion 3m-squared boxes and given each location point a unique code or address using a combination of three words from the English dictionary.
For example, Nelson's Column is situated in a square marked this.fantastic.notes, while Arthur's Seat in Edinburgh is tagged maybe.sling.worth and rock.miles.candle will take you to a duck feeding point at the edge of one of the Gnoll Estate Country Park’s three ponds.
When the Council receives information about an incident from the public, identifying a caller’s exact location is incredibly important, but sometimes there is no easily identifiable landmark, address or postcode to establish exactly where the incident has taken place and this can result in wasted time, fuel and energy.
The free what3words mobile phone app uses GPS technology to allow the caller and the council or emergency service to quickly pinpoint where they are and where an incident has happened or is happening. This means that no matter where they are - in a field, on the roadside, in the countryside, by a river bank or outside one of a multiple entrances to a shopping centre or concert arena - their precise location can be known.
The Council is now encouraging people to download the what3words mobile app. The app is free to download for both iOS and Android, or by browser, and works offline – making it ideal for use in areas with an unreliable data connection. The three-word address format is also consistent anywhere in the world - and is available in 36 languages and Welsh is coming early in 2020.
The Council’s biodiversity service is already using what3words to accurately log the location of areas of interest and will be actively encouraging the public to report sightings using the technology.
The technology can also be used to help people accurately report incidents such as potholes or fallen trees.
In terms of public safety for instance, the technology could also be used to help callers pinpoint the site of a drug paraphernalia discovery or even homelessness sightings.
Neath Port Talbot Council’s Cabinet Member for Streetscene and Engineering, Cllr Ted Latham said: “This technology could save considerable time and effort pinpointing the site of fly-tipping or some other incident, cutting costs and reducing any wasted time for our staff. I would urge people to click on the link below to find out more about the what3words app.”
Chris Sheldrick, co-founder and CEO of what3words, added: “Today, people nearly always have their phone on them. We need to use the tools at our disposal to improve public services and potentially save lives.”
The use of what3words ties in with Neath Port Talbot Council’s digital strategy known as Smart and Connected which is designed to enable the Council and its residents to connect, share and interact with the wider world reliably, safely and quickly.
Learn how to use the what3words app here: https://what3words.com/how-to-use-the-what3words-app/