Three Little Words

Here's a revolutionary way to map the world. Use words.


  • You've gone to the park.

  • A day out at the beach.

  • A hike in the hills.

It's usually straight-forward to find your way to the starting point - the car park, or main entrance. However, once you're sitting on the lawn, sunbathing on the beach or are trekking up the side of a hill; how do you tell someone where you are? Exactly where you are?

  • I'm sitting near the ice-cream van, opposite the toilet block!

  • We're next to the pier!

  • We're.... there's a large tree in the middle... look for a small wall...

You get the idea.

Now, how about having an exact co-ordinate for where you are; down to a 3m x 3m square.

And that co-ordinate is by the way of 3 words.

what3words has divided the globe into 3m x 3m squares and given each one a unique 3 word address. ///kite.chats.dine, for example, will take you to a precise spot in a field next to the River Ouse in York.

People can find their current 3 word address on the free what3words app for iOS and Android, which works offline and is ideal for use in areas with unreliable data connection, or on the online map.

The 3 word address format is consistent everywhere in the world and available in over 35 languages.

All you need to do is tell someone the 3 words, and using the app, they can navigate straight to you. No more sharing of longitude and latitude references.

Now, if you're stuck in the middle of nowhere, when you call for help, all you need are the 3 words. The emergency services can look it up and give the exact details to their teams.

It's great for delivery companies too; so you can give the exact location for deliveries, where there may be some ambiguity.

Because the 3 word co-ordinate for each 3m x3m square is unique, you may have more than one that can be associated with your house. The front door will be different to the back door and the driveway entrance is different again. You may want to find a 3-word combination that you prefer. Be aware that you can't change the references, but there's sure to be something - and what3words have assured that there aren't any inappropriate words. Although, with 35 languages catered for, there might be some that don't work in some parts of the world!

I think this is a brilliant use of technology which is being used in great situations around the world; especially in places that don't have postcodes.

Dominos (the pizza people) are using it to speed up deliveries on the Caribbean island of St Maarten.

In South Africa, the AA use it to locate the vehicles of members who have broken down.

It's also ideal if the kids go out on their own, get lost, or need help. They can give you their 3-word reference and you can find them too.

35 English and Welsh emergency service have signed up to use the service; and if you don't have the app installed, they'll send you a link to it first - making sure that they reach you as fast as possible.

If you haven't tried this, then give it a go. It's completely free and you can download the app on iOS and Android, and also use the web version.

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