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What3Words aims to 'address' Global issue

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by Startacus Admin

The good folk at What3Words have devised a new global addressing system in which the world has been divided into 57 trillion 3m x 3m squares each addressed with 3 words randomly selected from the dictionary...

Did you know that 4 billion people on this planet don’t have an official address? It’s staggering to think that something that we take so much for granted, is What3Wordsa luxury beyond the reach of about half of the world’s population.

We must admit that the plight of the ‘addressless’ has only very recently come onto our radar, indeed I don’t think it has even ever occurred to us that this might be an issue.   But an issue it certainly is, and one which presents a number of rather surprising difficulties.

I mean, think about it; these 4 billion people are essentially invisible. Their lack of address prevents them from obvious activities such as receiving correspondence or deliveries, but can also have a much more profound and potentially dangerous impact on their rights as citizens and ability to receive essential aid.  

As is usually the case with such things, it is the world’s poorer people who are disproportionately affected by ‘address-lessness’.

The issue only came to our attention last week, when we happened to stumble across a rather interesting social impact project which is hoping to provide every single person in the world with a rudimentary address.

The people at What3Words have devised a new global addressing system in which the world has been divided into 57 trillion 3m x 3m squares each addressed with 3 words randomly selected from the dictionary.  

What3WordsFor example under this system the address of Nelson's Column is “beside.model.played” whilst the very middle of Tower Bridge is “icon, sculpture, and valley”; you get the picture.

How did we not think of this? I mean, it’s a stroke of absolute simplistic genius!

Think about it, you want to meet your friend for a picnic on the slopes of Ben Nevis;  with just 3 simple unambiguous words, you can both navigate to the exact same spot even if you began from opposite ends of the has it taken so long for someone to think of this?

On a more global perspective this new cartographic technology really could change the world. Alongside actually being able to find things in unfamiliar surroundings, there could also be really a significant impact on the quality of life of people the world over.

Consider as an example, the delivery of humanitarian aid following a manmade or natural disaster…how much more efficiently and accurately this could be achieved with every 3m x 3m of land and sea accounted for and described with 3 simple words? And how much more accurately could displaced people be located with such a simple system that is independent of visual landmarks.

I’m sure you’ll agree, it’s a pretty genius social enterprise idea.  Pop over to their website where you can have a little play around with the map and get a feel for what it’s all about and / or watch their explainer video below for more details...


what3words is a unique combination of just 3 words that identifies a 3mx3m square, anywhere on the planet

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Published on: 31st March 2015

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