Three words can get you to any location - What3Words has mapped the planet into 3m boxes, and assigned three words to every box
I did a post on universal time recently and this is a sort of equivalent but for location. Not all of Earth is covered by street addresses and this simple system allows the use of three simple words to identify and locate any 3m x 3m square anywhere on Earth. In this way, you can identify a pot in an open field, in an informal settlement, or on a desert island without figuring out the correct GPS coordinates and the correct geocoding standard.
what3words uses a grid of the world made up of 57 trillion squares of 3 metres by 3 metres. Each square has been given a three-word English address. What3words has named the world's landmass with three words in various other languages. As of December 2016, what3words addresses (as well as web and iOS app user interface) are available in Arabic, Finnish, French, German, Italian, Mongolian, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Swedish, and Turkish; the iOS app also supports Swahili. What3words launched 12 more languages at the start of 2018: Indonesian, Zulu, Japanese, Korean, and Hindi.[The company has also mentioned Chinese and various languages of Pakistan, including Urdu and Farsi.
Each what3words language uses a wordlist of 25,000 words (40,000 in English, as it covers the sea as well as land).
Supporters of open standards denounce the what3words system for being controlled by a private business and the software for being copyrighted and thus not freely usable. Ultimately for something like this to be broadly adopted though it should be an open standard.
|New three-word postcode system could open up the world for travellers
A new company is making everywhere in the world easy to find with a system of 3m squares – each identified by a three-word marker. Simon Calder finds out more