What3words and the future of georeferencing

Can you imagine locating yourself anywhere in the world without relying on uncertain addresses, latitude and longitude numbers or complicated codes? Well, know that this solution already exists. And it presents a transformative perspective for the future of georeferencing.

what3words is a location system which aims to simplify physical addresses around the world, by creating a location pattern based on three words. It would be a simpler and easier to use version of GPS (Global Positioning System) coordinates.

The W3W divided the world into 57 trillion three-by-three-meter squares and assigned each a unique three-word, rather than numbered, address. In addition to facilitating navigation, this tool allows a huge sector of the world population (75% from 135 countries, according to the UN) that has inadequate or very complicated addresses, to gain access to basic services such as mail delivery. It is also a solution that can assist emergency services, as is already being done in the UK¹.

With a solution like this, everyone in the world, no matter where they live, has an address that locates them.

some challenges

Of course, there are some hurdles ahead of what3words in terms of becoming a new world standard for transportation, travel and business technologies. Traditional navigation methods still work relatively well. And what seems to be the biggest dilemma for now: the rigorous nature of address systems in many places. A system like this would only work on a large scale if everyone switched to it.

Of course, with some companies this exchange would be more agile than with others. It is possible to see FedEx adopting the system with some ease, unlike the Post Office or traditional and rigidly structured government logistics companies. Anyway, the W3W idea remains interesting. And you never know what the future holds – or how the service might solve and overcome these obstacles.

How does the what3words idea relate to network mapping?

Well, just imagine how easy it would be to carry out a feasibility query with your client having to use only 3 words. In addition to the accuracy that a system based on GPS coordinates offers, easily locating the exact square where you want to place the client would allow for much more practical and powerful solutions.

Like other regions of the world, Brazil and Latin America are places that have a high rate of irregular or poorly assertive addresses by the standard systems. In this sense, the possibilities that the emergence of solutions like this bring regarding georeferencing for ISPs located in these places are quite promising.