The location of the Victoria News reporter’s desk is vocals.observe.shams according to the What3Words mapping system. (map.what3words.com)

The location of the Victoria News reporter’s desk is vocals.observe.shams according to the What3Words mapping system. (map.what3words.com)

3 random words mark every spot on earth

Innovative mapping system assigns three word combinations to 57 trillion 3 metre squares

A global address system created by a tech startup in the UK is gaining traction in its bid to make navigation faster, easier, and more precise – all by using combinations of three random words.

Looking for the B.C. Legislature?

It’s at options.noting.duration.

Where is the reporter’s desk from which this story was written?

Humorously, at vocals.observe.shams.

Are you a UVic student looking to get back to campus?

Head to blossom.pens.smarter.

What3Words has mapped the world into 57 trillion 3 metre squares, each identified with a unique three word combination.

The brilliance of the system is that it can provide a precise location for places that have no address. In fact, that is the reason it was created. From pinpointing an exact spot in the labyrinth of a slum for providing medical aid, to finding a friend at a music festival, the success of the mapping system is evident in the major backing and accolades that it has received since its inception in 2013.

Using combinations of three words makes it easier to remember and relay than GPS points. The service works offline with no need for a data connection, and has been replicated in many different languages.

While it seems like a slick solution to a great need, some mappers are raising alarms over the fact that it is a proprietary, closed system with the company keen to protect their intellectual property. The system is being marketed to governments, disaster and aid agencies, among others, which raises questions about how much control private companies should have over public infrastructure.


 

keri.coles@blackpress.ca

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