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what3words

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You may know about what3words as they have done a fair amount of advertising recently. In a nutshell, they divide the world up into 3m squares and give each one a unique address, made up of three random words.

For example, if I was arranging to meet you at church, I might say “meet me at the main entrance”. That is probably close enough in most circumstances but the church actually has several entrances. Neither of the two which come directly off the car park are the one I would have had in mind, so there is scope for confusion. Instead, I could have said “meet me at woke.launch.margin” (or handy.scarf.sparks or frogs.exchanges.miss if I had one of the others in mind). If you can get that close, the final step will be easy.

I have known about it for a while but haven’t had much call to use it in practice. The most I had used it for recently was noting the start and end of some wombling walks Jane and I had done. Today, I got a more important gain from it. Jane had been driving to drop some things off at a friend’s and was having a problem in the connection between her phone and the car. She parked up on a quiet road but wanted a bit of guidance but, of course, I needed to know exactly where she was. We could have worked it out on the map but it was easier for her to give me the what3words reference. I then only needed to check what building she could see out of the left hand window and I knew exactly where she was and what direction she was facing (close to where she needed to be – she’d just missed one turning around the A46).

If you have a smart phone, it is definitely worth installing the app; even if not, you can still access the service via a web browser. You can even have fun typing in three word combinations and seeing where you end up (I just tried elephant.tree.room and got a spot in Russia, about 200 miles north of Mongolia).