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Iceni Magazine | November 11, 2019

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Safety boost from innovative location technology

Cromer Pier in Norfolk

Innovative technology which could help save the lives of rural workers and landowners, is being adopted by the UK’s biggest electricity distributor.

UK Power Networks becomes the first electricity company using what3words location technology to boost safety by helping members of the public accurately report the location of any overhead line damage, so staff at its call centre in Ipswich can then quickly arrange for the power to be turned off and repairs carried out.

It would also help if somebody finds themselves in an emergency situation, such as driving a high vehicle into a live power line. Identifying precisely where help is needed can be difficult where there’s no address or too general a postcode to describe exactly where you are.

what3words has given every 3m x 3m square a unique 3 word address, which means callers now have a simple way to describe precisely where help is needed – using just three words. For example, if you log into the app you can see the centre of Cromer Pier in Norfolk is called ///stores.taller.arise

The what3words app is used by many emergency services to get resources straight to the scene of an incident more effectively and is free to download for both iOS and Android phones, or by browser. Once installed it does not need an online connection to work. The three-word format works anywhere in the world, in 36 languages.

what3words

UK Power Networks has become the first DNO to partner with location technology app what3words to aid the reporting of damaged overhead power lines


UK Power Networks is using the technology across the South East and East of England where it owns 65,000km of overhead power lines, and is encouraging its use among organisations who are already signed up to its Be Bright, Stay Safe campaign – including the National Farmers’ Union which suggested its use.

Peter Vujanic, head of safety, health and environment at UK Power Networks, said: “The introduction of what3words will make an immediate and significant difference to how quickly we can pinpoint a damaged overhead power line. This will help us to quickly make it safe, and carry out repairs.

“When a farmer recently brought down an overhead line with his tractor, it took 12 minutes for our call advisor to work out where he was, but the app would have taken seconds. To be able to remove any potential delay is a fantastic innovation.”

Chris Sheldrick, co-founder and CEO of what3words, said: “We’re very excited to be partnering with UK Power Networks. It is the first distribution network to encourage the general public to use what3words when reported the locations of damaged power lines.

“It’s great to see our free app being used to promote better safety behaviours, as well as efficient asset management across their electricity network.”

Rosalind David, a county adviser for the NFU, said: “We’re pleased to see an app devised by a Hertfordshire farmer’s son now being adopted by UK Power Networks across its area. It will save time, and could save lives, on farms when incidents occur.

“The NFU has been working closely with what3words and our members are rapidly adopting this app to report incidents or provide an address for remote locations such as pylons and poles, field entrances or remote buildings.

“More farmers are using contractors to carry out work on their farms and we recommend that those who have overhead lines, poles and pylons, provide a detailed map with these marked with a W3W address to contractors.  Should anything untoward occur, the contractor can immediately dial 105 and give the what3words address of the incident to UK Power Networks.”


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