What3Words – ambitious British start-up due to which everyone and everywhere now has an address

Per the data put on the What3Words’ website about 75% of the world (135 countries) suffers from inconsistent, complicated or inadequate addressing systems.

What does it mean? Lots of places and locations remain unaddressed; ≈ 4 billion people are unseen; a vast number of individuals are not able to communicate where they live; have no possibility to inform about a crime or ask/get help; unable to send or get deliveries; and just simply can’t use many of their rights. The British project aims to change this situation through the easy to use the app.

The solution. What3Words is a global addressing system, which provides the unique and exact physical addresses to the places. At the same time allowing unmistakably find any location and communicate it quickly. It is an algorithm that weight less than 10 Mb so it can freely use on most devices including practically all smartphones. It is equally useful for individual and business purposes.

Originally, the founders have divided the whole globe into 57 trillion 3x3m squares (global grid). Then they assign each square a fixed, permanent and unique 3-word address, using a sanitized pool of 25-40,000 dictionary words, depending on which of its nine currently supported languages the user prefers. The particular algorithm – geocoder transforms geographic coordinates into these 3-word addresses and backward.

What is the power of the words? The thing is that to remember 3 words much easier than various figures which define the geographical location. Imagine, if the person got to the trouble, being under stress making the situation even worse and the probability to mistake in numbers is higher than in a few words. “If you have an injury on the slopes, it’s incredibly difficult to describe where you are. The problem with using GPS coordinates is that if I’m trying to shout 18 digits on a telephone while I’m incredibly stressed, errors creep in.” – chief marketing officer, Giles Rhys Jones. Also, the usage of words makes non-technical people feel more comfortable with the application.

What is more, this service works without a data connection; that is crucial in the case when a person is in remote deserted place or the area with poor connectivity.

To sum up, the project has a tremendous potentiality, and no doubt goes beyond just business purposes addressing essential problems.

The good news is that what3words is a free app for individuals to use so that you can try it right now.





2 thoughts on “What3Words – ambitious British start-up due to which everyone and everywhere now has an address

  1. Avatar Enrico Di Stefano says:

    Amazing. In my opinion is the perfect example of thinking outside the box. They took something so common and they radically changed it.
    Personally I never thought something like this and it is totally easier than numbers. You just need to remember 3 simple words instead a long series of numbers, addresses, etc.
    It is a perfect solution for their target especially for the fact that is affordable.
    But for me there is also a big risk for this company: how long do big players (like Google, Apple…) need to replicate this kind of technology? Is it easy to protect?

    Another example of helping people or areas with communication problems is Facebook, with “Wi-Fi Drone”. So, I’m happy to see a positive trend oriented to help these disadvantaged parts of the world.

    • Avatar evmatvienko says:

      I totally agree with you, Google, Apple, Facebook are serious rivals and compete with the tangible and intangible resources they possessed is incredibly hard. As a rule, such kinds of small companies survive due to taking a narrow niche or specialization and complete satisfaction of needs of the target market. Another thing is that flexibility of the system and opportunity for a different kind of collaboration increase the chances for success. Giving away the app for free brings an additional meaning – users are getting used to it, and if the service can meet all their requirements the probability that they switch to the competitors reduces (it is also a part of a first mover advantage). If I understand correctly, the company protect their product with the license. They have already present in 170 countries, continually develop the product and complement with new features. From my point of view, the important thing is that they have an active partnership program – their software is easy to integrate with others ones and allows to broaden the third-party products and services. Also, it supports IOS and Android. As for me, now the company is performing not bad, will see where they end up.

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