An annoying call when ordering pizza: “It is gratifying, but not the metro, but the village! Lesnaya street…”. For about an hour, the driver circles around the neighborhood and cannot find the right address, while the pizza has cooled down a long time ago. There are several Lesnaya streets in Moscow and the Moscow region, but there is also a hotel, a banquet hall and God knows what else with the same name. Even the most experienced couriers and service providers are lost in this way.
The traditional system of addresses with house numbers, street names and postal addresses is too inaccurate even in today’s high technology environment. A few years ago, a resident of London, Chris Sheldrick, who worked as an accountant in the music industry, drew attention to this. When organizing concerts, he constantly noticed that musical groups had difficulty finding side entrances to clubs and concert venues, as well as frequent loss of instruments and equipment.
Thus, there was a need to use a more accurate positioning system. In 2013, he co-created the what3words program with mathematician Mohan Ganesalingham and linguist Jack Waley-Cohen. The concept of the program is as follows: on a model of the Earth’s surface, the developers “arranged” a network of 57 trillion squares 3 × 3 m in size, this method made it possible to accurately determine any place around the world.
Three words instead of a complex coordinate system
Of course, the location can be determined using GPS data, but no one remembers the latitude and longitude values. It takes almost a genius to arrange a meeting, for example, at a point with coordinates 55 ° 45’21 “north latitude and 37 ° 37’04” east longitude.
Much simpler is a combination of words, and in a form that anyone can understand. The what3words program gives each square a “name” consisting of three words. To do this, 40,000 terms were selected from the dictionary, collected in 64 trillion possible combinations, more than enough to solve this problem.
The matching algorithm sorts the list of words to use simple and common words for densely populated areas and longer words for less populated areas. What at first seems a little strange, allows you to accurately determine any point in the world.
Enter three words on the map.what3words.com website or in the software on Android and iOS: “foot.piece.flag”, and the navigation system will pave the way to the CHIP office (Moscow).
Currently, the system “understands” 14 languages, but support for additional language packs will be provided soon. Residents of Moscow know the meeting point mentioned above as Red Square, for everyone else in the what3words system, the point in Russian is designated as “shoe.waist.jump”. In English, this place sounds like “porch.upwards.bill”, in Italian – “incontrarla.inesistenti.occorre”.
Designations are not translated, but in each language they are replaced by their own group of words. Points with similar combinations are located far from each other – thanks to this, both people and machines can easily determine input errors. For example, the location listed as “knick.rufen.zart” is in Norway, while “knick.rufen.zarte” is in Venezuela.
Half of the world’s population does not have an exact address
The possibilities of using the program are truly endless. For example, since 2016, the Mongolian State Post has been using a “three-word” system to deliver mail efficiently. In principle, a country four times the size of Germany and a population of only three million is one remote region with many dwellings without an address in the traditional sense.
On the other hand, what3words can be useful when used in hard-to-reach areas, such as disaster relief or faster delivery of humanitarian supplies to their destination. UN experts believe that around four billion people around the world do not have the ability to accurately indicate the address of their place of residence. As a result, they often remain cut off from basic social and government services.
More than mail and navigation
Thanks to accurate and error-free addresses, drivers and parcels arrive at their destination faster. In addition to navigation and mobility systems, logistics and postal services, there are many other industries and applications where a pinpointing system can be fully utilized.
Drones and helicopters deliver humanitarian aid faster to disaster areas with an accuracy of meters. Remote areas become accessible for travel and tourism, and government agencies are able to better manage infrastructure across the country and regions.
Emergency and rescue workers can get to the scene faster and save someone’s life. When organizing and holding events, determining the exact coordinates allows you to better manage objects and events.
In addition, what3words can be applied in the field of tourism and public services, for organizing events and managing facilities. From water taps and street lights to entrances to hospital laboratories, any point can be pinpointed and recorded.
Standard solution in new A-class vehicles
The system can be useful for the end user in everyday life. If you have ever unsuccessfully tried several times to meet with friends, for example, in Moscow’s Crocus City Mall, then you will appreciate the location determination with an accuracy of up to three meters.
Mercedes Benz also recognized the promise of the project and in 2017 became the first automaker to invest in a startup. A three-word location search system will soon be applied to Mercedes vehicles. In the first stages, the project will be used in new A-class vehicles, which are expected to enter the market in the spring of 2018 and which will be equipped with what3words as standard.
Instead of giving an address, the driver can simply say three words to the navigation system. So, after the words “wander. subtract. nougat”, the system will lay a route to the “Conquerors of Space” monument, which is not far from the VDNKh metro station in Moscow.
This system could be successfully used in logistics due to the high efficiency associated with improved positioning. For large logistics companies, even a few minutes gained during the execution of one order can ultimately save a significant amount. The matter remains small: to prove to customers the effectiveness of this system in comparison with existing solutions, which are not so easy to refuse.
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Photo: manufacturing companies, Shutterstock/Fotodom.ru