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what3words: 3 Words the Wiser

Taking Location Sharing to a Whole New Level

Have you ever reached a location only to find you’ve arrived in the wrong place with the same name as your intended destination?  With many places sharing similar or identical names, this unintentional error can cause a big navigational headache.

what3words is an innovative solution that helps people communicate their location using – as the name suggests – just 3 words.  So how does it work? Well, the idea is actually quite simple. The developers behind the application have divided the entire world into a grid, with each cell representing 3m squared. Every single square in the world (that’s a mind-boggling 57 trillion squares!) has then been assigned a unique “address” made up of just 3 seemingly random words. And that’s it!

The locations are said to be as accurate as GPS coordinates, only they’re a lot easier to remember.

For example, the GPS coordinates for Big Ben are 51.5007° N, 0.1246° W, but the assigned 3 words from what3words are clean.wider.both. Or, as another example, the Riviera Networks head office can be found at w3w.co/fortnight.physics.belonging.

Not only are words easier to remember, but it’s interesting to see what comes up for different locations around the world.

The idea was thought up by Chris Sheldrick, who whilst working in the music industry, discovered music artists were struggling to find locations to events. They would unload all their equipment, only to find they were in the completely wrong place.

This concept might sound interesting, but who does it help? Thousands of businesses worldwide are already using what3words to improve efficiencies, enhance customer experience, offer smoother journeys, and even save lives.

Here are a few ways that what3words is transforming different industries:

  • Automotive – Drivers can use their voice to navigate to places that don’t even have addresses, like beaches, parks and entrances to large buildings.
  • Travel – Ending up at the wrong hotel is the last thing people want after a tiring journey. Travellers can ensure peace of mind knowing they’ll arrive at the hotel entrance, hassle-free.
  • E-Commerce – Most deliveries arrive without a problem, but when delivery drivers struggle to find an address, it can go from convenience to confusion. With a 3-word address, deliveries can arrive on time and at the right address.
  • Emergency – Not many apps can claim to save lives. But with a unique 3-word address covering just 3m x 3m, callers can quickly describe their exact location, allowing a quicker response from emergency services.

what3words is a simple but incredibly useful application that’s already seeing strong usage across multiple industries.  The creator’s vision for it to become the global standard for communication doesn’t seem too far fetched.


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