A new QGIS plugin powered by what3words’ innovative geocoding service allows you to use 3 word addresses in the open source GIS platform.

Boundless, in partnership with what3words, released the what3words QGIS plugin earlier this week. QGIS users can now benefit from the what3words award-winning solution for simpler location reference.

what3words is the simplest way to talk about location. It has divided the world into 3m x 3m squares, each with a unique 3 word address. 3 word addresses are all unique, and similar sounding ones are placed far apart to make any mistakes obvious to the user as well as automated error detection in real time.

For example, the 3m x 3m square for the entrance of Boundless Washington D.C. headquarters, located at 1875 Connecticut Ave NW, Washington D.C. can be quickly communicated as being located at “watch.hoping.string”.  Easier to remember and communicate than GPS and quicker and more cost effective to implement than another system, this human-friendly platform is now available as a locator in the premier open source desktop GIS client.

The plugin, accessing the what3words locator, allows QGIS users to display the 3 word address for any location or search for a 3 word address, either individually or via batch conversion to and from coordinates.

Here are specific instructions regarding the plugin:

what3words Map Tool

To use the map tool, select the what3words map tool item in the what3words tools menu.

The map tool will get activated. When you now click with your mouse on the QGIS map canvas, the 3 word address corresponding to the mouse position will be displayed in the QGIS message bar (see below):

Zoom to 3 Word Address

The Zoom to 3 Word Address tool, as it is rightfully named, allows you to zoom to a given 3 word address. Enter the 3 word address as three words separated by dots. In addition, the what3words plugin will add a new algorithm to your Processing toolbox. This new algorithm will add a new attribute to a points layer, with the 3 word addresses of each point in the layer.


what3words API

To use the what3words service, you need an API key. You can sign up for an API key at http://developer.w3w.dev.cc/and set the API key using the Set API key menu. If you have not set up an API key, you will be prompted to enter one when calling any of the tools described above.


Add 3 word Addresses Processing Algorithm
The plugin adds an additional processing algorithm to QGIS which allows you to determine the 3 word address for any points in an updatable layer and add them as a new field called 3WordAddr. The algorithm is available in the QGIS Processing Toolbox under what3words tools > what3words tools > Add 3 word address field to points layer.


Download the QGIS plugin

It’s simple to install and use the plugin. Check out our tutorial to get started.