what3words: find any location on earth by remembering 3 words

Martijn Graat
Martijn Graat

I was sitting in the backyard, at blacked.award.buzzer to be precise, when I found out about what3words. what3words is a London based company, which you can find at index.home.raft, that has made it its mission to make it as easily as possible for anyone in the world to talk about a precise location. But how do they do this?

They have divided the world into 57 trillion 3×3 meter squares, and have pre-allocated fixed and unique 3 word addresses to each. By doing so, they have created an alternative universal addressing system. Why? I hear you ask. GPS coordinates are good enough, right? Wrong! It is much easier for the human mind to remember 3 words, than it is to remember a string of seemingly random alphanumeric characters. They currently have rolled out their 3 word address system


The more developed a country is, the better addressed it is, but not all places in the world have proper addresses, or ones that are difficult to find. A system like what 3 words could solve that. It’s also much easier to manage maintenance on installations in remote locations. Or maybe you want your friends to be able to find you in that remote spot where you have pitched your tent…

Why is this important? what3words says it best themselves:

Around 75% of the world (135 countries) suffers from inconsistent, complicated or inadequate addressing systems.

This means that around 4 billion people are invisible; unable to report crime; unable to get deliveries or receive aid; and unable to exercise many of their rights as citizens because they simply have no way to communicate where they live.

For example, it means that in remote locations water facilities can’t be found, monitored and fixed; and schools, refugee camps and informal settlements remain unaddressed.

Even in countries with advanced address systems, people get lost, packages aren’t delivered, and businesses and tourist attractions don’t get found.

Poor addressing might seem no more than annoying in some countries, but around the world it hampers the growth and development of nations, ultimately costing lives.

We want to give everyone in the world the ability to talk about a precise location as easily as possible.

Everyone and everywhere now has an address.

what3words Marketing Director Giles Rhys Jones recently published a post on LinkedIn in which he explained how what3words revolutionizes the Package and Post Industry. The amount of parcels that need to be delivered to homes, rises along with the volumes of goods bought online. In most cases the number of delivery issues rises if the number of deliveries rises, but with people ordering goods across borders, the chance of issues is even higher.

Delivery without issues starts with correct addressing, which can be difficult for well addressed areas, but is near impossible in poorly addressed areas. This is where what3words can have a big impact. Using a 3 word system eliminates the need for checking if an address is correct (for the e-tailer, the delivery company, and the end customer), and it makes it possible to have goods delivered to places that have no or poor addressing. Read more here.

Chris Sheldrick, CEO of what3words told LogisticsMatter on this subject: “3 word addressing can save delivery companies money in the last mile, enable international growth through better verification & give better customer experience and confidence that their deliveries will arrive when and where they want them.”



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