what3words: 2016 adventures

Our Global Partnerships Director, Clare Jones, reflects on a busy year for us here at what3words.

Postal services adopting 3 word addresses

Before 2016, I had never been to Mongolia and actually knew very little about it. This year I was lucky enough to spend quite a bit of time in this fascinating country, working with innovators who are pioneering ways to accelerate social and economic development there.

The reason for these trips was that 2016 saw what3words adopted as an official addressing system in two countries – Mongolia and Côte d’Ivoire. The postal services there are using what3words to ensure that everyone, no matter how remote their home, has a simple address.

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It’s been amazing to see the first letters being delivered in the Ger districts of Ulaanbaatar, but also to see how other organisations have used what3words to support local communities – from ecommerce sites like Mmarket making deliveries, Microfinance providers using what3words to locate clients to the City of Ulaanbaatar using it to communicate locations of key assets such as hospitals, water points and recycling centres. The tourist board of Ulaanbaatar has tagged all the key tourist hotspots, and tour providers such as Nomadic Off Road and Indy Guide use what3words to improve their guests’ experience.

The first drone delivery tests to 3 word addresses

Six months ago, I met the brilliant engineers from Altavian, which became the first drone manufacturer to integrate what3words into its drone routing software; we’re now partnering with many more UAV companies all around the world. Whether it’s using drones to support disaster response, or delivering packages with UAVenture or CopterExpress, we’ve loved seeing what the future of drone deliveries might look like with 3 word addresses.

Navigation and automotive companies embracing what3words

This year saw the first taxi app, from Indian company Bikxie, using 3 word addresses for drop-off and pick-up (and this is one of my personal favourites since they have a fleet of women drivers who use what3words to get women home safely at night). It also saw many more navigation apps build in what3words (no excuses for getting lost when travelling now what3words can be used with trip planners like TripGo, offline hiking apps like PocketEarth and satnav apps like Navmii – which I used when I was on a road trip through Chiapas in Mexico earlier this year).

We’ve been working with automotive companies around the world, too, and loved seeing Audi take a road trip to visit vorsprung.durch.technik in Brazil.

And of course we’ve had lots of fun talking driverless cars and 3 word addresses too…

Addressing disadvantaged populations

what3words is being used by NGOs and governments to give people addresses that they can use to access finance, health and emergency services and much more.

For me, a powerful example of this is the work being done by the incredible Gateway Health in South Africa. This NGO delivers crucial medical and other services in the informal settlements of South Africa and they came to us because poor (and in many cases, non-existent) addressing caused huge problems for them and for their clients. Now, they have a team visiting homes, providing 3 word addresses (on paper or stickers for those who don’t have smart phones) and helping people understand how to use them. They are reducing maternal mortality – now, when a woman is calling for help when she is in labour, she can tell the ambulance exactly where to come.

We’ve also seen what3words used in disaster response by partners such as the UN, IHS in their response to the Haitian hurricane, and the Philippine Red Cross during hurricane Haima.

3wa Red Cross

Faster deliveries all around the world

It’s been great to see delivery companies of all kinds using what3words – from California, where Onibag uses what3words to deliver crucial medical supplies such as antibodies (because finding one particular lab in a huge hospital complex with just one postal address is extremely difficult) to Addis Ababa (where DeliverAddis delivers hot pizza to 3 word addresses).

Travelling with what3words

It’s been a whirlwind tour of the world for me this year – I’ve been lucky enough to meet with innovators using what3words all over the world, from Mexico and Singapore to LA and Saudi Arabia.

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And while visiting new places it’s been amazing to see how tourism and travel companies are embracing 3 word addresses so that no one has to get lost.

We saw what3words being used at the Rio Olympics to keep guests safe and make sure they could find the right entrance to the velodrome.

Hotels like the Landmark Hotel chain in Dubai provide the 3 word address of each front door for their guests; brilliant travel guide apps like Pearlshare and travel sites like The Wayward Post help you find hidden gems using what3words. And as an avid airbnb user, I loved seeing Airsorted use what3words to make sure guests can always find the right apartment.

Printed guides, too, are listing 3 word addresses – like this Irish tourism guide, which used what3words to help travellers find the best surfing spot in beautiful Cork (plausible.noon.approved, apparently).

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This year at what3words, we also raised our Series B investment round, led by our partners Aramex, and our London team grew to 28 people.

We’re always on the lookout for exceptional people to join our team, so please do check out our jobs page. And we love hearing how people are using what3words, so please keep sharing your stories with us, and you can always access our API and build something using our technology.

Thanks to everyone who has been a part of our journey this year, and looking forward to 2017.

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