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Working on Spatial Data quality and pragmatic enterprise solutions.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

What3Words – The biggest disruption since Google Maps?

I have an addressing problem. The apartment block I live in has a rear entry for visitor parking. It doesn’t have a street number. I direct guests to the right alley, and then make them call me, so I can tell them which garage door to access. I am usually in the middle of cooking something complex when they ring.

Until recently, the only alternative I had for directing guests to the right spot was “-33.884891, 151.217647”, and hope they can remember and interpret these numbers. Good luck with that. (I’m not even mentioning datums or projections, or visitors who don’t know what to do with GPS coordinates)

Chris Sheldrick
Three months ago I spoke with a young Briton named Chris Sheldrick. He used to work as an event manager, organising festivals and the like, and was paying people to meet delivery trucks at the edge of town, and explain to drivers exactly where to park, drop the chairs, or unload the catering.

Chris wondered why there wasn’t a simple, clear-cut, easy to remember system to communicate location in natural language. Addresses don’t work if there isn’t a property or building to address, and coordinates are hard to remember or interpret.

That’s why Chris created What3Words (http://what3words.com/; available for IOS and Android), and it’s now taking the world by storm.