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what3words

I ran across this story today https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-49319760 and I'm wondering if any Forum early tech adopters have tried using this app or if anyone has noticed locations in Europe publicizing their 3 words to make it easier for visitors to find them. I'm interested to try it next time we're out & about in an unfamiliar area. Sounds a lot easier than many other locator apps. I just hope that Google doesn't buy them for a zillion$.

Posted by
5817 posts

I’ve been looking into this for work.
I have seen it used on some websites but it’s there for fun rather than practical use really. We have no real need for it because we have an existing system of addresses that works.
Where it comes into it’s own is in countries with informal urban development. I believe they are officially using it in Sierra Leone as address information in their shanty towns. It’s a real game changer for emergency and postal services.

Posted by
8889 posts

I've heard of this before, it surfaces into the consciousness of a random journalist occasionally.

I can see the use in emergencies, someone is on a phone and doesn't know exactly where they are and are not calm enough to dictate a latitude an longitude as numbers.
I can also see it of use in countries that are not organised enough to have official maps or official names for streets or addresses, not so much in the first world.
In the UK, postcodes are very precise, they just cover a small group of houses in the same street (5-10), or one business. If you look at hotel and other websites, they list the postcode, and UK residents know that is all you need to put into a GPS. Foreigners don't know this.

For example, go to Google Maps ( https://www.google.com/maps ) and enter: SW1A 2AA (nothing else needed).

Posted by
5817 posts

The one advantage that What3words has is that an address using their system is much easier to remember than a group of random letters and numbers. Each set of words also refers to a much smaller area 3m x3m than post codes.

Posted by
194 posts

I've seen it being promoted for use in the UK for calling emergency responders – if someone is in distress in a church bell tower, for example, the responders wouldn't waste time going to the other end of the church. I haven't heard about it in this country, though, or for use in general tourism (yet).

I looked it up for my house a while ago and it was fun having different locations for the dining room vs a bedroom vs various areas in the backyard, etc.

Posted by
577 posts

The France2 evening news today just broadcast a story of a Frenchman who fell and broke both legs while day-hiking alone in southern Italy. He called 112 but couldn’t describe where he was. Eight days later, he still has not been found.

I immediately thought of this app. I wonder if it might have helped, assuming the 112 operator was familiar with it.

The news went on to say that the EU’s 112 system has the capacity to geolocalize a caller more precisely than just a cell tower, but few countries have invested in it. Ironically Italy ran a pilot program but didn’t implement it. The news report said France was going to adopt it next year. It would be interesting to know which countries use it currently.

Posted by
663 posts

Is there any information on where the data goes? Who else can locate me if I install this app?

The Wikipedia article reads like a company advertisement.

I just hope that Google doesn't buy them for a zillion$.

There might be a connection already. Some users complain that the app doesn't work for them because they have blocked Google.

(Also, I have been wondering what to think of a website that reports the police shot a dead man, but I guess that's a different issue. :-) )