The New York Times | Beyond the GPS, Mapping Every Place, Everywhere

A fixed address matters — and in most countries, large numbers of homes don’t have one. Addresses don’t exist in the jumbles of self-built houses ringing most major cities in poor countries. Nomadic people have no way to describe where they’ve pitched their tents as they drive their livestock from place to place. Even permanent homes in some rural areas have no address.

The value of what3words is that it can be used by anyone, anywhere: a driver in Los Angeles who wants to get a kidney to a recipient at the right hospital wing and entrance. Earthquake rescue teams in Mexico City. Attendees at Burning Man trying to find one another’s tents. Ground crews of the Red Cross in the Philippines telling headquarters exactly where help is needed. Mongolia’s postal service, which has trouble reaching slum dwellers and nomads. All those people do, in fact, use it. (Eight postal services are using or preparing to use what3words, including Nigeria’s.)

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