The Saudi Red Crescent Authority now accepts what3words in emergency situations during Hajj and throughout the Kingdom
what3words has divided the globe into 3×3 m squares and given each one a unique 3 word address. For example, ///seagull.shorter.hobbit will take you to the front entrance of the King Abdulaziz Historical Center in Riyadh. The app is free to download for both iOS and Android, or can be used on a browser, and works offline – making it ideal for use in areas with an unreliable data connection. The 3-word address format is available in 36 languages, including Arabic.
Emergency cases can occur at any time and place, from a road collision in the middle of Jeddah to an incident in the suburbs of Makkah AlMukarrama. In an emergency situation, identifying precisely where help is needed is critical – and this can be near impossible if you are in an area with no address or if that address isn’t good enough to describe exactly where you are. During the Hajj period, for example, millions of people temporary come to Makkah AlMukarrama without proper familiarity of surroundings, and even in the Grand Mosque, communicating the location is difficult due to the size of the venue’s premises.
If you didn’t know where you are, you might turn to your phone to try and locate yourself via a pin on a map – but imagine trying to describe your pin to someone over a call when you were in distress. In these moments, emergency services are forced to waste precious time and resources just trying to locate the person in need of help. At best, this can be frustrating, and at worst waste crucial minutes that are the difference between life and death.
Now, the Saudi Red Crescent Authority is accepting 3-word addresses and are encouraging pilgrims to download the what3words app before embarking on their spiritual journey to perform Hajj. The caller will simply be able to read the three words to the agent over the phone, and have help dispatched to that precise “3×3 m square“ location. The what3words partnership is launching first in Riyadh, Jeddah and Makkah AlMukarrama regions.
The partnership is aimed at both residents and tourists in Saudi Arabia. 3-word addresses are easy to memorise and residents in poorly addressed houses are encouraged to learn their 3-word address to help the Red Crescent find them faster. For tourists, using what3words is much easier than trying to explain where they are without any knowledge of their surroundings.
Saudi Red Crescent Authority has over 800 ambulances on the road in Saudi Arabia, and received over 75,000 calls during the month of May.
Chris Sheldrick, CEO of what3words adds, ‘Being in need of urgent help and not being able to easily describe where you are can be very distressing for the person involved and a really difficult situation for emergency services. 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. what3words and the Saudi Red Crescent Authority encourages everyone to download the app to make sure they are ready to quickly share accurate location information, should the worst happen. It’s free, it’s simple to use, and one day it might make sure you get the help you need, when you need it.’