How can your phone help you in an emergency?

Published on July 03, 2024

hand holding smartphone with what3words app displayed onscreen

Needing emergency help can be scary enough when you know exactly where you are. But what should you do when hiking, camping or hunting in a location with no address and are unsure how to direct first responders to you?

An app called what3words may be able to help.

It is a free app that can be used on Apple and Android devices and works without a data connection. In the app, the world is broken into 10-foot squares and each square has been assigned a unique three word identifier. 

In an emergency: call 911, open the app, tap the Locate Me icon, and the what3words address for your location will be displayed. Tell the dispatcher the three words and it may help emergency responders find you faster.

The Johnson County Emergency Communications Center uses the program, but others may not be familiar with what3words. Prepare before going to an unfamiliar or remote location and tell friends and family where you are going and when you plan to return.

Learn more and download the app at