Called FINTAN, the database of local nicknames and vernaculars from around the UK coast is helping the Coastguard to cut down response times


A unique database of local nicknames and vernaculars of UK coastal landmarks and place names is helping the Coastguard to respond quicker to distress calls.

Called FINTAN, it has been compiled by Ordnance Survey (OS) and, so far, includes more than 6,000 names, many of which would rarely appear on a map or navigation device.

The OS said the database saves vital minutes when an emergency call comes in, as some callers may not have a grid reference, post code, road name or the official title of a landmark. Instead, the caller may know the local nickname for the location, which can be looked up on the database, helping the Coastguard to locate casualties as quickly as possible.

The deputy director of maritime operations for the Maritime & Coastguard Agency (MCA), Chris Thomas, said FINTAN is having a positive impact.

‘We are here to save lives and our biggest priority, like all the emergency services is getting to people as quickly as we can. We are extremely enthusiastic about being the first emergency service to use FINTAN.’

‘There is no doubt that having this information at our fingertips cuts down our response times and saves lives. A great deal of hard work has gone into creating this advanced database, which delivers so much knowledge. We would like to thank everyone involved for their efforts so far,’ he added.

The database has been collated over the last five year and is continually updated to reflect current nicknames, and any changes.

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The OS said FINTAN helped Coastguard teams with more than 20,000 call outs in 2017 alone.

The MCA is the first emergency service to use the database, which is expected to become available to the police, fire brigade and ambulance service in the future. Vernaculars and nicknames of inland areas are also being gathered.

OS chief scientist, Jeremy Morley, commented: ‘This is just the start. Our work with the MCA has been a great success. Equipping HM Coastguard with our information is a major step forward and now we’re looking to move inland too.

‘The hard bit has been creating software algorithms and a web application which is up to the task. Now our ambition is to make the service, as part of our public duty, accessible across every part of Great Britain to support all our emergency services,’ he added.

Those wishing to contribute their own place nicknames or vernaculars can go to:

Some of the names on the database include Tom Tiddler’s Field between Calshot Spit and Fawley Power Station near Southampton, and Callum’s Hole, the local name for Glencallum Bay on the Isle of Bute, Scotland.