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Mark43 Partnership Aims to Give 911 Locations Within 10 Feet

The partnership with what3words could help more first responders better locate emergency callers, including in hard-to-define spots such as parks, parking lots and areas with poor mobile service.

Location accuracy is key in emergency responses, and that is the driving force behind a new technology deal involving Mark43 that could bring 10-foot location accuracy to first responders.

The New York-based software vendor, which makes products such as computer-aided dispatch and records management systems for first responders, has partnered with location technology company what3words, a London firm that launched in 2013 and has been on a bit of a hot streak of late.

The technology in question is designed to guide first responders more accurately to emergencies via the use of three-word codes. Not all locations can be accurately fixed via street address, and what the British company offers is a system that divides the world into grids that are 10 feet by 10 feet.

Specific points such as parking garages, parks or stadium entrances are described by three random words arranged in a unique combination such as voice.gifted.agree.

The tool can be used via a caller clicking on a mobile map, a text message link initiated by dispatchers and the what3words app installed on a caller’s phone.

The technology has proven successful enough that the Los Angeles Fire Department recently decided to adopt it for regular use. The tool is available in 48 languages.

“What3words has long been on our radar, and we’re excited that we were able to connect and make this integration happen,” said Matthew Polega, co-founder and head of communications and public policy at Mark43. “It was a no-brainer for us to build this partnership. We want to make the Mark43 software platform as complete of a solution as possible for our customers.”

He said Mark43 has a network of more than 120 public safety agencies, and that this new deal provides what he called a huge advantage for telecommunicators, first responders and their communities.

“It enables Mark43 to offer the most robust solution possible to our network of customers,” Polega said. “Anyone involved with the (CAD) life cycle knows that location accuracy and intelligence can make the difference between a successful response or stress and confusion. If you’re a state trooper on a highway, as an example, being able to communicate exactly where you are, instead of relying on imprecise and infrequent mile markers, is critical.”

He said Mark43 has connected directly with the what3words API, meaning that any agency that decides to deploy the tool will need little or no technical effort to use it.

This deal represents the latest move to improve emergency response efforts via technology integrations and other efforts.

One example comes from RapidSOS.

The New York-based startup recently launched a digital network designed so that public safety agencies can access the latest emergency response software — doing so at a time of the push toward more sophisticated next-generation 911 technology nationwide.
Thad Rueter writes about the business of government technology. He covered local and state governments for newspapers in the Chicago area and Florida, as well as e-commerce, digital payments and related topics for various publications. He lives in Wisconsin.