Identifying disaster zones with what3words and the Philippine Red Cross

The Philippine Red Cross provides essential support and aid in disasters, such as heavy flooding and typhoons, throughout the Philippines region.

The Operations Center provides a 24/7 control and coordination service to teams operating in the heart of disaster zones. They are in charge of dispatch, mobilisation and tracking of individuals and vehicles in these areas.

In terms of identifying a precise location, the Philippines already suffer from inadequate street and building addressing. This is magnified in rural areas, where people typically resort to describing a location based on nearby landmarks.

In disaster zones, descriptive addressing simply doesn’t work. Buildings may have been flattened, roads washed away and street signage destroyed. Communication links are also likely to be damaged, making it very difficult to share location data over the internet.

In these emergency situations, the Philippine Red Cross has turned to what3words, to provide a more reliable and accurate addressing solution. With a 3 word address, ground crews can effectively communicate exactly where help is needed, via word of mouth or a simple SMS.

The Operations Center can then coordinate additional support to that location, dispatching an ambulance crew or search and rescue teams, faster and more efficiently.

The what3words system also works offline, meaning teams can share their location without the need for a data connection. And with many support vehicles lacking GPS satnavs, using a 3 word address also ensures that drivers still know where to go.

“what3words has become an essential tool in helping us quickly identify disaster zones and coordinate rescue teams,“ said Richard Juico Gordon, Chairman of the Philippine Red Cross. “For example, it proved critical in our disaster response during the onslaught of Super Typhoon Haima in October 2016.”

In addition to providing faster response times, the Red Cross team also use 3 word addresses to store the location of important assets in the region – schools, hospitals, evacuation centres. In future disaster situations, this data will prove invaluable, ensuring that dispatch teams know in advance precisely where they need to go.

As 3 word addresses are fixed and unique, they can always be found without confusion. what3words is used by consumers, delivery companies, navigation tools, governments, logistics firms, travel guides and NGOs. It also provides location information for UN-ASIGN, the UN’s disaster reporting app.

Learn more about using what3words for Emergency Services

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