Viewing 40 posts - 81 through 120 (of 178 total)
  • What3words not suitable for safety critical applications
  • stevextc
    Free Member

    Emergency services aren’t being forced into using it.

    Do you have any proof of that?

    Given you don’t give a toss the NHS were forced to use the propriety system for the vaccine SMS’s I can’t see why you’d care.

    It seems you are all for forcing the NHS/Emergency services into using stuff by removing the options or perhaps it’s just you can’t wait for the NHS to be sold off to US companies ???

    reluctantjumper
    Full Member

    Either forced or refusing … however given the business model for W3W and stated aims to investors then forced seems to be the most likely.

    That’s what worries me about W3W, they are set up as a business with investors that will want a return on that soon. I cannot see any other way for those investments to be recouped other than charging for access to their service, either by charging for each request or for downloading the app. The danger point will be if/when the emergency services switch to relying on it as their main location tool, that will then give W3W the green light to monetise the system. If that point is reached then I hope there is legal protections to stop the Emergency Services essentially being held over a barrel when people in distress quote 3 words at the operator but they cannot access the system due to monetary issues. I know that is a worse-case scenario but it is possible. Hopefully some enterprising student/hobbyist will recognise that and come up with an open/free alternative that is either similarly unique or links into a few current systems to remove any possible errors.

    As always you have to look behind the product to get the whole picture.

    jonathan
    Free Member

    Another MR person here and we had an incident yesterday that demonstrates a lot of the quirks and potential pitfalls of W3W and how location information gets handled. Caller had phoned 999 for an ambulance and given a location description, I think the ambulance control call handler may have then generated a W3W (possibly based on postcode – which can cover big areas). The ambulance crew got sent W3W and description, and being familiar with the patch realised the W3W was guff and went straight to location. They also asked control to activate MR and that was triggered via SARCall, but with only the W3W location, which instantly looked wrong as you can’t fall from rocks in the middle of flat fields. Incident Controller then struggled to get through to control room to get the rest of location info (ie description), which we got just before I set off in the wrong direction in a vehicle. Also meanwhile the air ambulance (who probably self tasked) was hovering over the (wrong) W3W location until redirected by the ambulance crew on the ground.*

    As said – all in all it’s better to phone the police (who also love W3W btw) as they take the information and pass it straight on with no ‘translation’. Tends to work more smoothly when that happens and the right resources turn up when and where they are needed. W3W is already way too embedded to roll back at all – so we just need to have good ways of cross checking locations and try and make sure call handler training covers what it needs to.

    * I had a camera in my face for that one – so now everyone will be able to enjoy my scrabbling in my pockets to find a mask and take a handover from a paramedic after running up a hill 😉

    crazy-legs
    Full Member

    Emergency services aren’t being forced into using it.

    Fair enough, I was going off what seems to be a commonly occurring / oft-repeated comment on the topic.

    nickc
    Full Member

    @stevextc, mate, get your head sorted, it’s full of nonsense.

    Drac
    Full Member

    Do you have any proof of that?

    Well, they’re not I’ve spent a good bit of time in the EOC the last year and was on standby to head down last night for a possible incident. They can use W3W, postcode, OS Grid reference and longitude latitude. They are not forced to use one system, they can choose from the options.

    andytherocketeer
    Full Member

    Hopefully some enterprising student/hobbyist will recognise that and come up with an open/free alternative that is either similarly unique

    there are open systems that are similarly unique

    indeed the patent report I read even references one as prior art from about 6-7 years prior

    and that ignores the other prior art and not non-obvious claims made such as dividing up the map/globe in to arbitrary sized boxes and assigning unique comibinations to those boxes.

    there’s even a free open one in goggle maps, that just simply has not been pushed whatsoever (although it tends to show for waypoints in google maps rather than dropping a pin, or in the “what’s here” option)

    but sadly the Scafell Pike flip-flop hikers that can’t get back in time for Corrie/Eastenders, won;t have the intelligence to dictate 6 words/numbers using the NATO alphabet, but can handle 3 words that often make funny sounding combinations.

    stevextc
    Free Member

    @stevextc, mate, get your head sorted, it’s full of nonsense.

    You stated that (after a year of preparation) there was only one system that GP’s and pharmacies were allowed to use as a SMS gateway… and you don’t seem to care how that occurred or who decided it or how suddenly after a year it was such a panic it had to be single sourced from the only company on the procurement list.

    It doesn’t even seem to have crossed your mind to ask who made that decision and what clinical expertise they had and why hundreds of better qualified companies were not put on the VIP list or for that matter why companies that make ventilators or PPE were excluded from bidding but a vacuum cleaner company not only got put on the VIP list but was calling the PM directly for some tax readjustments.

    Now you personally don’t have to care (or perhaps you have shares and do) but that doesn’t give you the right to criticise people who do care and infer they need their head sorting or any other euphemism you care to use.

    nickc
    Full Member

    Edited. I’m not responding to you anymore

    stevextc
    Free Member

    andytherocketeer

    there are open systems that are similarly unique

    There are loads and have been for years… its not a new or unique concept.
    The only way this can possibly make money is by making it non optional – that is the only novel thing about it and the fact they refuse to publish the lists. (RM postcodes are proprietary but you can purchase the list and use it)

    poly
    Free Member

    That’s what worries me about W3W, they are set up as a business with investors that will want a return on that soon. I cannot see any other way for those investments to be recouped other than charging for access to their service, either by charging for each request or for downloading the app.

    I doubt their business model is to make money from emergency service use. That’s just smart marketing – gets stories in the press (free advertising) and adoption rates up, credibility but surely their aim is for delivery services etc? Especially in parts of the world where postcodes are less helpful than the UK – but even here:

    This should give a postcode if your phone knows its location and has data:
    https://www.whatsmypostcode.com/

    That’s obviously created by someone who’s never been outside a city! Once you get rural postcodes cover huge areas. Here, even in a town with 10-15k people my house with postcode AND house number either brings you right to the door or dumps you 100 yards away with a flight of stairs and no signs to direct you to where I live depending on your sat-nav. If I have a heart attack I’m hoping that the Ambulance don’t use the same sat-nav/post code database as Uber!

    poly
    Free Member

    The CG wouldn’t be able to winch the casualty without assistance in this case.

    I look forward to seeing this on the TV.

    Air ambulance was there in 30mins +10 getting to the point where the casualty was, MRT was another 30 mins before their first people got to the casualty.

    But you don’t know how much time was wasted whilst the ambulance service called the police to ask for the MRT – maybe only a few minutes, but often its surprisingly long (same goes for calling coastguard when its on cliff/beach).

    CG was initiated by air ambulance. It arrived after the MRT.

    Maybe, and each situation is different, if the first 999 call had gone to police then they’d have initiated the CG getting them there sooner.

    All the helo support was on the edge for flying conditions.

    That’s certainly how the TV show will present it – doesn’t make good TV to be a routine operation! However, I’d say if it was marginal for the CG helo, most air ambulances would already be grounded.

    My view is that relying on one system to get a location is a fundamental error. Not mobilising because you need the location from a proprietary system and no other source is verging on negligence.

    I agree, I do a bit of stuff at sea and whenever I give a location try to give Lat/Long AND a distance/bearing from a landmark because if I jumble a digit or the person typing it in misses a minus sign it makes a big difference. (It also helps anyone else on VHF as “3 mies SW of XYZ” is a lot more meaningful to the person who might come to your aid than some a GPS location – I have overheard Belfast Coastguard ask a caller on VHF for a W3W location when they were struggling to understand a call on the radio).

    stevextc
    Free Member

    Drac

    Well, they’re not I’ve spent a good bit of time in the EOC the last year and was on standby to head down last night for a possible incident. They can use W3W, postcode, OS Grid reference and longitude latitude. They are not forced to use one system, they can choose from the options.

    From the 1/2 of the conversation I listened to and the filling in by the Tom paramedic/guide it didn’t seem like the SWAS (if that is who he called) had any choice in using any other system.

    The only possibility would seem to be the operator refusing on their own bat because they got out of bed the wrong side but given the seriousness of the injury that seems far fetched… but what Tom said they told him is they didn’t have the facility to use anything else. (Equally they may have been untrained to use any other system… but the outcome is the same)

    Perhaps a half way and the operator was told to “strongly encourage”?

    Ultimately though does it matter? Tom was forced to walk to get a signal and download W3W before they would process the call any further.

    I’m not normally one to condone people calling the ambulance at the drop of a hat… its not like they have spare resources and somewhere someone is lying in a ditch with a fractured spine whilst the ambulance is treating someone with a minor scrape or broken arm etc. who could have made it to a minor injuries clinic by themselves or with friends but in this case a spine board and paramedics were absolutely required…

    Drac
    Full Member

    It’s entirely possible the call taker got stuck in the algorithm they follow, there is no reason to stick asking for a postcode as people tend to know much more than their home address. I can’t possible comment on the rationale beyond that without more information.  I will say though as someone who deals with investigations, perceptions of what happened by all parties are very different to what went on. There is also often a series of small events that lead to something not going well.

    The basic question to ask is if someone doesn’t know exactly where they are is where they started and where they were heading, last place they knew they past. MR can bounce a txt to mobiles which when responded to can provide a location.

    stevextc
    Free Member

    I doubt their business model is to make money from emergency service use.

    I doubt that as well as it’s bad publicity but once they have the market to squeeze who knows?

    That’s just smart marketing – gets stories in the press (free advertising) and adoption rates up, credibility but surely their aim is for delivery services etc? Especially in parts of the world where postcodes are less helpful than the UK – but even here:

    They don’t need stories in the press as such… Channel4ventures is a lead investor (swapping TV advertising for equity)

    Channel 4 Ventures offers high potential brands the opportunity to accelerate their growth through TV advertising, in exchange for an equity stake in the business.

    https://www.channel4ventures.com/

    My objection is forcing someone to download a closed proprietary system in return for medical assistance.
    Whichever way I look at that is is just wrong.

    They can target the voluntary/emergency services and if they say no they can publicise to the donors that they are refusing to use a free system… again just wrong.

    Their refusal to share the algorithm doesn’t bode well… especially given the tie in with the UK emergency and volunteer services because this is their only way to get people to download it.
    After this who knows…Tesco or Aldi may sign up (or not) but it is leveraging the emergency services to establish their base that I can’t feel is right.

    Greybeard
    Full Member

    I’m not a supporter of W3W but at least it’s replaced what I understood to be the previous ambulance service default of postcode.

    It doesn’t surprise me that one ambulance controller insisted on W3W, but that doesn’t mean it’s a policy. Every job has its incompetents and mavericks as well as people who just have a bad day and get things wrong.

    big_n_daft
    Free Member

    That’s certainly how the TV show will present it – doesn’t make good TV to be a routine operation! However, I’d say if it was marginal for the CG helo, most air ambulances would already be grounded.

    The wind was fluctuating, the air ambulance got in at the top after thinking about it for a bit. They apparently tried to move closer and the wind changed their mind. The casualty was below some cliffs about 100m downslope and it was quite calm there. Issue for CG was wind above the escarpment for their hover. However they got the winchman in and the plan changed to winch much to the relief of the MRT who would have had two bad options to haul out.

    crazy-legs
    Full Member

    Great article on the front page about W3W now:

    Is What3Words Really That Bad? Or Good? Let’s Ask Mountain Rescue.

    thepodge
    Free Member

    Great article from Keeper of the Peak predating STW by a year.

    https://kofthep.com/2020/08/14/i-am-lost/

    Northwind
    Full Member

    pdw
    Free Member

    I disagree. The tool doesn’t give the lack of ambiguity in location that its sellers claim. It’s been demonstrated that there are many confusable pairs within a confusable distance of each other.

    OK but while that’s true, every single grid ref has countless confusable pairs within a confusable distance of each other.

    I think it’s fair to say that W3W’s “confusing mismatch” avoidance hasn’t delivered as well as it should, or as well as they promised, and yes that’s a big deal. But grid refs essentially have confusing mismatches designed in, and absolutely zero avoidance. So the question then is, is W3W’s flawed system automatically worse for its flaws than the common alternatives. Or if you prefer, is it a net gain despite failures.

    It’s a lot like self-driving cars, where you don’t have to have a perfect system, to possibly outperform the system that’s currently in use, but people will always fixate on the “new” risk.

    (I guess should probably say I’ve been a bit of an enthusiast for W3W, basically for 2 reasons- the way it’s gained acceptance in the general public which no other location finding app has managed, and the apparent cleverness of the algorithm. So I’m pretty pissed off that a chunk of that is now proven to be so flawed and with the apparent behaviour of the company. But it still feels a lot like it migt be throwing the baby out with the bathwater.)

    thepodge
    Free Member

    As per the KotP link above (if I’ve remembered it correctly)… Emergency services know their patch so if a grid reference is out then they can approximate it.

    53.7132290, -2.0960360 is STW HQ. If someone gave 63.713, -2.096 well that’s the Faroe Islands so clearly wrong and Calderdale emergency services wouldn’t be called for that so an educated guess is needed.

    Linguists.enlighten.chatting is also STW HQ but linguists.lighten.chatting is in Algeria. There’s no way to educated guess that.

    It’s very easy for misheard words especially if it’s poor weather, poor connection or strong accent.

    The other thing is I can send my location via signal, WhatsApp, Google and Strava without me having to know any words or numbers. If In doubt people tend to use sarloc (sp?) to find people, again without having to find and repeat words and numbers.

    scuttler
    Full Member

    Not read either the STW or KOTP articles but another year of MRT experience should say a lot for something that hasn’t been around very long. Commentators on here clearly saying the adoption is evolving.

    Rubber_Buccaneer
    Full Member

    Great article on the front page about W3W now:

    Did it answer the question it posed?

    jonathan
    Free Member

    No …and I wrote it!

    * although strictly speaking I didn’t exactly set out to answer that question… editors eh? 😉

    scotroutes
    Full Member

    https://www.bbc.com/news/technology-57156797

    More problems

    Nobeerinthefridge
    Free Member

    Had a good chat about W3W on a MRT exercise on sunday, concensus is that it’s not for us. Something that was set up and put out freely, and is then gonna be chargeable once everyones using it, the amazon prime of mapping.

    joefm
    Free Member

    I guess the issue is that the mountains and fells are in the north of the country. If they were in the south there would be far less communication and mispronunciation issues.

    It sounds like communication and training issues on a broader spectrum of different teams and organisations before you even mention w3w. Introducing something new that seems to be voluntarily used is going to cause some confusion.

    According to the article 85% of calls are successful, but that 15% could still be catastrophic.

    wwpaddler
    Free Member

    An issue with W3W is that words are inherently easier to mishear on a phone call than numbers. If you consider that someone on a 999 call is probably not at their calmest and most rational and may well be passing you W3W provided to them by someone else nearby who’s got the app open while they make the call it’s very easy to end up with wrong words and particularly easy to lose plurals. Even if you phonetically confirm the W3W back to them they’re quite likely to agree with you even if it’s incorrect so you need to confirm location from other descriptions they give you.

    nickc
    Full Member

    so you need to confirm location from other descriptions they give you.

    Without wishing to re-open this debate, if you read back through the thread there’s a MR team call handler who describes the process they use, in short they try not to rely on just one method of location, and triangulate using several unrelated systems.

    wwpaddler
    Free Member

    I know – I’m a police call handler.

    poly
    Free Member

    An issue with W3W is that words are inherently easier to mishear on a phone call than numbers.

    1. I’m not convinced about that; 2. Reading out numbers on a phone call is more likely to jumble digits, than mix the order of the words.

    If you consider that someone on a 999 call is probably not at their calmest and most rational and may well be passing you W3W provided to them by someone else nearby who’s got the app open while they make the call it’s very easy to end up with wrong words and particularly easy to lose plurals.

    As soon as you add multiple stressed people in a chain of communication there is a risk of transposition error, the screen reader, the caller, the call handler, the person who passes to MRT, the MRT leader to the team etc. Any sensible system would have a check sum / check digit / check word so that it was essentially impossible to think you have a good ref when its not. The same issue applies to all the other methods of location info.

    so you need to confirm location from other descriptions they give you.

    Exactly – its obvious from the article that many of the mistakes are so far out nobody could think they are real.

    According to the article 85% of calls are successful, but that 15% could still be catastrophic.

    The question is what were the stats in a pre-W3W world?

    Nobeerinthefridge
    Free Member

    A huge amount of MRT situations are now found using their own mobile phone location, and quite often talked off the hill in the case of folks being unsure of where they are and fit to walk.

    crazy-legs
    Full Member

    Without wishing to re-open this debate, if you read back through the thread there’s a MR team call handler who describes the process they use, in short they try not to rely on just one method of location, and triangulate using several unrelated systems.

    The one occasion I’ve had to call MR out (for a friend, MTBing accident), I gave an 8-figure grid ref off my GPS – this was in the early days of consumer GPS units and it was mainly designed for walking so it actually gave out proper grid references rather than simply using GPS as a basis for speed and performance metrics.

    MR asked where I was in addition to that (even though they knew the ref I was giving them was off a GPS unit, you can’t do 8-fig off a 1:50k OS Map!) and, because I knew the route very well, I was able to tell them the exact location. Castle Crag, approx one mile south of Grange at the southern end of Derwent Water. To them, that was simply confirmation that I’d read the grid ref correctly.

    Also, hats off to MR, they were amazing.

    reluctantjumper
    Full Member

    If you read back through the thread there’s a MR team call handler who describes the process they use, in short they try not to rely on just one method of location, and triangulate using several unrelated systems.

    I had a good conversation about this a few weeks ago with a MR team member for the Brecon Beacons and he said the same thing. When out in the hills I always have my phone with me that can generate a location using W3W, co-ordinates and be used for their app/text pinging system plus I always carry my Garmin bike GPS (even when walking) that can generate co-ordinates and a OS grid reference as it has OS 1:50k maps on it. For unfamiliar areas I’ll take a physical map too. He agreed that I had most bases covered, knowing my route and local landmarks would be the extra help they would need. I’ve only ever had to call for help once when I found a walker with a broken leg on Table Mountain but that was an easy location to describe (right by the stone mound at the summit, they had fallen off it after a strong gust of wind) so have never had to rely on tech to locate me i an emergency thankfully!

    wwpaddler
    Free Member

    1. I’m not convinced about that; 2. Reading out numbers on a phone call is more likely to jumble digits, than mix the order of the words.

    That’s not what I was saying. Reading numbers or words in the wrong order is a different issue. If someone is reading number digits to you there are only 10 digits and they sound quite different even in strong accents / dialects. There’s thousands of words in English, lots of which sound similar, can be changed to sound like other words depending on accent / dialect and with the W3W system there’s no context of a sentence to help you identify a misheard word.

    mick_r
    Full Member

    At Gisburn yesterday and noticed that the new trail marker posts now have both OS grid and what3words references.

    Interestingly, it was easy to memorise the three words for the duration of each section as you passed them. Not sure how much practical use that would be, but was a fun observation 🙂

    franksinatra
    Full Member

    The focus of these conversations seems to be around mis-pronunciation, plurals etc. Perhaps the biggest issue with W3W is that if you have not closed the app since the last time you used it, when you open it in a panic the three word location will still be where you were the last time you used the app, not where you are right now. To prevent this you need to either close down the app each time or hit the little arrow in the circle to move to current location.

    Sounds obvious but easily missed if you mate has just fallen off a cliff and is about to die to death!

    thelordhumungous
    Free Member

    I tried to use this the other day to find a location in a semi thick block of woodland. Downloaded it on the spot, so not experienced with it, had the location sent to us, and even with 2 of us on different phones we couldnt zero in on the exact spot. Got within a a dozen squares or so but beyond that couldn’t get bang on, GPS lag/accuracy caused issues. If we were looking for a body we wouldn’t have found it. Seemed like a reasonable test from a user perspective which didnt go that well.

    welshfarmer
    Full Member

    Just popped up on my FB feed from the local MRT

    “This afternoon the team were called out by Welsh Ambulance Services NHS Trust and Gwent Police to an incident in the Black Mountains. A woman had injured her hip while out walking and enjoying this lovely weather.
    Contacting the emergency services, they gave their what3words location, however unfortunately this did place them about 10 miles away in a different part of Monmouthshire.
    After further investigation and information from a local resident, we were able to determine that she was in the Grwyne Fawr valley.
    17 team members responded and working with the paramedics able to extract the lady to a waiting ambulance.
    We wish her a fall and speedy recovery.”

    Make of that what you will 🙂

    scotroutes
    Full Member

    So, what we need is a reduced vocabulary and more words?

    Might I suggest a vocabulary of 36 words and we use 8 to determine a location? Mostly, we’d only need 10 words and use 6 of them.

Viewing 40 posts - 81 through 120 (of 178 total)

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