First responders and government staff are often required to enter unfamiliar properties with little idea of what they might find inside. They expose themselves to risk on a daily basis, but new technologies are making their job safer.

Symphony AR is an augmented reality app that provides its users with real-time data about a property or location via smartphones and smart glasses. The data is represented as augmented reality images which are superimposed over the view seen through the camera on the smart device, allowing the user to visualise data against the physical world.

When first responders enter a property using Symphony AR, they can pull up historical data such whether the occupant is a vulnerable person or licensed to carry firearms. The app also provides information on the property itself, for example any past or alternate addresses. Crucially, the location of critical infrastructure can be visualised, including chemical hazards, explosives or fuel stores, which could pose a major risk in the event of a fire.

what3words integration allows users to view their precise location in the form of a simple 3 word address. This is accurate to 3m x 3m, so if they spot something that concerns them, such as a potential gas leak, they can flag the exact location and communicate it to other staff immediately for assistance. 3 word addresses are easy to remember and can be communicated quickly by radio, phone or SMS. This makes them more user-friendly and less prone to human error than GPS coordinates.

At times, teams are sent to investigate issues that aren’t at an official property and have no street address at all, such as fly tipping locations. In this case, 3 word addresses give them a way to record and communicate where the problem is, without resorting to complicated GPS coordinates.