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Crisis Response Journal Crisis Response Journal

A new way to communicate location information

Posted on 4th November 2015 at 15:16pm

When first responders respond to a disaster, they need to know exactly where to go. They need accurate information about the precise location of facilities, hazards, resources, and boundaries in order to plan their response and travel in a post-disaster environment where traditional landmarks and descriptions cannot be used for navigation.

what3words has divided the entire surface area of the globe into 57 trillian three metre by three metre squares, and assigned each of these squares a unique and easy to remember three-word name 

Existing location-referencing systems do not fully address this need, however. Different countries have different systems, and complex alphanumeric naming systems can be difficult to remember and easy to mix up. Further, 75 per cent of the world has inconsistent, complicated, or inadequate addressing. This means that four billion people cannot receive deliveries or aid, and may be much more difficult to reach when a disaster strikes.

What3words has created a solution to this problem. It has split the entire surface area of the globe into 57 trillion three metre by three metre squares, and assigned each of these squares a unique and easy to remember three-word name.

What3words’ addressing method has a number of benefits over existing systems. The system is universal across countries, is functional in other languages, and can be used to name locations even in the middle of the ocean.

Additionally, using words instead of a combination of alphanumeric characters allows users to more easily recall and communicate the location information. Planet.inches.most (the location of the Statue of Liberty) is far easier to remember and say than the equivalent longitude and latitude co-ordinates: 40.6892° N, 74.0444° W. Further, what3words works alongside existing geo systems and devices, does not require a data connection, and functions across platforms and devices.

What3words provides an interesting and innovative alternative to traditional addressing that could greatly improve location management for first responders. Whether responding to an earthquake or a forest fire, being able to easily communicate the precise location of resources and threats is critical.

News update

November 4, 2015: what3words, the multi-award winning addressing platform, has closed a $3.5m Series A funding round led by Intel Capital, with Li Ka-shing’s Horizons Ventures and several of the company’s original angel investors also participating. The announcement was made today at the annual Intel Capital Global Summit in San Diego, California.

“what3words has great potential to transform how the world shares location by making it more memorable,” said Arvind Sodhani, Intel Executive Vice President and President of Intel Capital. “Intel’s strategy is to develop the best location technologies in the world. With what3words, people can use those technologies with more precision than ever before, which presents huge efficiency opportunities for businesses.”

By Megan Mantaro, and Ian Portelli

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