What3Words is a company with the mission to revolutionize addressing around the world, to overcome the problem that a lot of addresses are either outdated, difficult to remember, or complicated to locate, or that some places do not have adequate addresses at all. In developing countries in particular the lack of an address can cause serious problems for residents, as they unable to report crime; unable to get deliveries or receive aid; and unable to exercise many of their rights as citizens because they simply have no way to communicate where they live.For example, it means that in remote locations water facilities can’t be found, monitored and fixed; and schools, refugee camps and informal settlements remain unaddressed. Developed countries also have numerous issues regarding package delivery or locating buildings and businesses.
What3Words has provided a solution to these issues by creating a unique 3-word combination, such as table.lamp.spoon, for every 3mx3m square on the planet, for a total of 57 trillion uniquely addressed squares. Each what3words language is powered by a wordlist of 25,000 dictionary words, and the algorithm ensures that words that sound similar like sale and sail are removed, along with curses and words that are complicatedly long. As it is an algorithm our solution takes up less than 10MB, small enough to install on almost all smartphones and works across platforms and devices.
The 3 word address system currently works in 9 languages: English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Swahili, Russian, German, Turkish & Swedish, and the company is working to expand into new languages as well. What3Words also works without a data connection, which solves a perpetual constraint when in remote and unaddressed locations, or in areas with poor connectivity.
Written by: Christopher Ewell, AGS on July 13, 2015