Reunions.Rainwater.Livid. Together, these three words form a unique identifier for my position on Earth as part of a new positioning system. What3Words developed a global addressing system, dividing the surface of the Earth into into 57 trillion, 3 by 3 meter squares, and assigning each square a unique three word ID.

According to the developers, the motivation behind the system is to provide support for the “75% of the world [that] suffers from inconsistent, complicated, or inadequate addressing systems.” While similar to GPS, an advantage of the What3Words system is the increased ease of recall associated with strings of words rather than strings of degrees, minutes, and seconds. Notably, the Cote d’Ivoire has adopted the What3Words format as the national standard for post. This means that people are able to send mail to a specific address (rider.windy.sings) rather than using descriptive addresses (aka. near the hospital, above the bakery, in the building painted green).

w3w Code.jpg

Code snippet to access What3Words API written in R

My first interaction with the system has been chasing after the most interesting three word phrases that I can find (very deep thought process here). Following that up, I’ve started using the system to create addresses for useful locations around K’dua that are otherwise difficult to find. For instance, my favorite place to grab red-red for lunch is reflected.shaver.stump. The tailor who’s currently making me a shirt out of local fabric is located at willpower.warm.narrowest. And when I’m winding down after a long day and ready to catch some football (go Chelsea!), I head to Havilah’s at mushroom.dairies.yesterday. In essence, I’m creating a welcome guide for new interns out of three word identifiers so that they can easily find critical locations, such as ATMs.

Since What3Words doesn’t require an internet connection to use, I can find and record locations even in the most rural of areas. This past Monday, I traveled with the team to Ajwenso? (immersed.courtroom.agreeable) to demo the Gari Elephant.


Gari Elephant demo for a women’s group at immersed.courtoom.agreeable

This has sparked an office debate about What3Words potential use to the Burro team. For instance, we could use it to accurately pinpoint locations of demos and our reseller network. Or, we could use it to track the precise location of sales, allowing us to generate heat maps or other useful GIS imagery to show our ability to penetrate local markets by region. And while GPS offers all of the same capacity, there’s a certain ease to using words. It’s harder to mess up as well.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s