We all know the frustration when navigating to a post code which leaves us in the middle of a country road with no sign of our destination and no idea which way to turn. We also know the difficulty of describing the location on a golf course of an irrigation box, or similar, to a contractor without physically taking them there. Then there is the situation of informing the emergency services the exact spot where an incident has taken place in the rough to the side of the 13th fairway. Post codes will get you to a general area but not the exact spot. To get there we need latitude & longitude or grid references or GPS coordinates, but these are unwieldy, difficult to memorise and transcribe. Therefore, an ingenious method of locating any spot on the planet using just 3 words has been developed and it is becoming widely used throughout the globe. It is called what3words. For example, the back-left hand side of the 1st tee here at Bristol & Clifton is located by using the three words "grapes, hush, laying" whereas the front right hand side of the tee, twenty five yards away, is “safe, silks, shirts”. This differs from most other location encoding systems in that it displays only these three words rather than long strings of numbers or letters. The system has a website, apps for iOS and Android, and an API that enables bidirectional conversion between what3words address and latitude/longitude coordinates. As the system relies on a fixed algorithm rather than a large database of every location on earth, it works on devices with limited storage and no Internet connection. According to the company its revenue comes from charging businesses for high-volume use of the API that converts between 3 words and coordinates; services for other users are free of charge. A grid of the world made up of 57 x1012 squares (land and sea) of 3 metres by 3 metres has been generated. Each square has been given an address composed of three words. The addresses are available in over 35 languages according to the what3words online map and the addresses are not translations of the same words from one language to another. The algorithm actively distributes similar-sounding three-word combinations around the world to enable both human and automated error-checking. The result is that if a three-word combination is entered slightly incorrectly and the result is still a valid what3words reference, the location will usually be so far away from the user's intended area that the mistake will be immediately obvious to both the user and an intelligent error-checking system. The main claimed advantages of what3words are memorability, error-detection, unambiguous nature of words for most every day and non-technical uses, and voice input. Therefore, the next time you need to pinpoint an area of the course, within a 3-metre square, then what3words could be a valuable tool ensuring everyone is speaking the same language!
This is member only content
Please LOGIN to read the full
Not a member? Please click here to join today.