See The Spark blogs


What 3 Words

what3words is a simple solution to a complex problem, locating things on our planet. I live in the UK and we have a well developed addressing system. It is rare that addresses can't be found. In many countries this is not the case. what3words addresses (no pun intended) this by assigning 3 words to each 3m x 3m square on earth. It's like DNS for latitude and longitude. Apparently there are enough words in the English language (and 8 other languages) to allow 3 words to be sufficient to cover the globe in these 3m squares. what3words is static meaning that addresses won't ever change, though I don't know how they account for tectonic movement. The allocation of words is almost random. Some offensive and obscure words were removed and words which sound alike are positioned very far apart.

The origins and current aims for what3words centre on the developing world where addressing is poor. I think it has a place in places like the UK too as it is much more accurate and much more succinct than our regular addresses. Take See The Spark's head office, for example. Our full address is 68 characters long. With what3words it is 25 and that is right to my office (see the title of this blog post). That means you can address to the door rather than the building. Handy for deliveries to big, complex buildings.
The other big advantage for even well addressed countries is that the addressing is uniform across political boundaries. This means I can better validate and ship to addresses around the world.

I hope it isn't long before big retailers and postal systems start using what3words.

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Date published: 2016-12-03
Last updated: 2016-12-03
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