Do you use what3words?

Maroon Balloon location at St John's House, Chichester, using what3words

This is a question that you may hear a lot over the next year or two. You may find yourself asking it too.

What is what3words?

what3words is a new geolocation app that allows you to pinpoint a physical location to a 3m² square, anywhere in the world. It’s like giving someone longitude and latitude coordinates but it uses three dictionary words instead.

For example, the front door to our office can be found at 50.835406, -0.775302 (latitude, longitude) but that’s not something easy to remember or give over phone or email. Instead we can say our front door is /// This is the unique set of three dictionary words that map to that exact 3mx3m location, and something that’s a little more memorable.

Yes, we have postal addresses of course, but these can be misinterpreted or inaccurate – just ask any Tokyo postman. Postcodes cover a wider area and we all know how frustratingly vague these can be when using sat nav.

Uses of what3words

It’s therefore not surprising that this app has many uses, from sat nav to takeaway delivery, friends meeting points to emergency services locations. Any situation really where a postal address doesn’t quite cut it.

Taking the emergency services example, let’s say you’re a hiker lost in remote hills, perhaps injured or out of supplies. Not knowing where you are, how are you going direct mountain rescue to your exact location? The app will give you a unique three word code (using GPS so no phone signal needed) which you can give to the emergency services, who will then get to you much quicker.

It’s great to hear that some emergency services in the UK are already using this technology with success.

How does this benefit your business?

If visitors have trouble finding your office, or indeed a meeting or event venue, you can use a three word code to pinpoint your location. We’ve recently added /// to our website footer and contact page so that people can find our office front door instead of getting somewhere nearby and then calling. We’ll be adding it to our next print run of business cards too.

Keep an eye on this app – with a million Android downloads and number one in Apple’s app store at time of writing – it’s looking to be one of those killer apps.

Who knows, maybe web developers use it for their late night pizza delivery (sorry, industry in-joke there).