what3words provides a precise and incredibly simple way to talk about location. We have divided the world into a grid of 3m x 3m squares and assigned each one a unique 3 word address.
It means everyone and everywhere now has an address.
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Isn’t the world already addressed?
Addressing around the world isn’t suitable for everyday needs. Street addresses can be inaccurate or ambiguous. Road names are repetitive. Homes and businesses are often located far from the centre of their postcode. And much of the world simply isn’t addressed – from informal settlements to the park where you’ve planned to meet friends, or the precise location where you’re waiting for the cab to collect you.
The UN estimates that 4 billion people lack a reliable way to address their homes. As such, they are denied access to basic social and civic services. They struggle to open bank accounts, register a birth or access electricity or water supplies. Without the ability to communicate where they live, these people become invisible to the state.
Not fit for purpose
Poor addressing means deliveries go astray, businesses can’t be found, aid doesn’t get through, remote assets are difficult to manage and friends fail to meet up. At best, it’s expensive and frustrating. At worst, it hampers growth and development, restricts social mobility and affects lives.
Irregular and incomplete
75% of the world suffers from poor addressing or none at all. The other 25% still lacks universal coverage. Whilst improvements have been made in mapping and navigation, defining exactly where “there” is remains a big issue.
A wealth of opportunity
The geospatial industry is worth up to $150bn annually. Precise and consistent location referencing would not only improve global addressing, it could also connect you to untapped customer bases and new industry sectors. Once people realise the limitations of current addressing methods, they see how 3 word addresses can become the answer to a wealth of problems.
Introducing a 3 word solution
what3words gives everyone and everywhere a 3 word address. It’s precise, simple and unique. And it’s changing the way people and businesses talk about location.
Words beat numbers
Using words means that non-technical people can discover and understand a 3 word address more easily than a postcode or GPS coordinates. They can also share that address more quickly, more accurately and with less ambiguity than any other system.
In your language
3 word addresses can be discovered in a range of languages, with more added all the time. Customers can use their native language or the language of the country they’re in. To avoid confusion, no words are shared between language versions. Once they find a 3 word address in one language, they can switch languages and discover the 3 word address for that same 3m x 3m square in a different language.
Always consistent addressing
The what3words system is fixed and will never change. So a 3 word address today will still be the same in 10 years’ time.
The square size of 3m x 3m is consistent across the globe, eliminating the need to switch between addressing formats or coordinate systems based on a country or industry sector.
Simple yet accurate
The what3words algorithm takes complex GPS coordinates and converts them into unique 3 word addresses. The 3 word address can then be communicated to anyone, anywhere.
Offline search available
The what3words system uses a mathematical algorithm, held in a package around 12MB in size. As such, it will comfortably fit on a modern smartphone. It also means that you can search for a 3 word address online and offline, or where a data connection is unreliable.
Auto suggested addresses
3 word addresses are intentionally randomised and unrelated to the squares around them. To avoid confusion, similar sounding addresses are also placed as far from each other as possible. The app will account for spelling errors and other typing mistakes and make suggestions, based on 3 word addresses nearby.
Voice activated searches
We are shortly releasing voice input, so you can search for a 3 word address by speaking it. This will vastly improve how we navigate when driving, particularly where street names are ambiguous or conventional street address searches drop pins in the centre of buildings, rather than at the entrance.
The people behind what3words
what3words was created because addressing around the world simply isn’t good enough for everyday needs. Originally from the music industry, Chris Sheldrick identified the need for a better addressing system, after bands and equipment kept getting lost.
Chris enlisted the help of two friends, Jack Waley-Cohen and Mohan Ganesalingam, to devise the core algorithm, build the first wordlist and create the app and website. The three co-founded what3words in 2013 and remain a driving force behind the company.