You may not have heard of the app, What3words, but downloading it will make your life a lot easier to navigate. In some cases, it can even save your life. Here’s how it works:
The What3words essentially points to a very specific location – it maps the entire globe into 3m x 3m squares, and gives them 3-word codes, for example ‘unit. pillow. culling’. So if you have the app, you can send someone the three words and they can head to that exact spot.
Why What3words is very useful to have
For rideshares and food delivery: Those using Grab/Gojek or Deliveroo/foodpanda will be familiar with people not being able to find you, since using postcodes can sometimes be inaccurate. For instance, postal codes in the new Punggol area sometimes lead you to an address that’s 10 minutes away. With What3words, you can send your exact location – saving you time explaining how to get to you, and saving your food/ride the extra time it takes to find the address.
Finding friends: Imagine you’re trying to meet your friends at East Coast Park, Botanical Gardens, or even at your campus. With the What3words app, you can send your friends the 3-word code and they’ll be able to find you exactly where you are. It also works if you’re going to a large-scale music festival – say Fuji Rock or Glastonbury – and you want to find your friend’s tent in the middle of nowhere. The 3-word code will be able to pinpoint the exact area.
Getting emergency services to find you: This is perhaps the most important aspect of this app – whenever you’re travelling into unknown places, make sure you have your phone with the app. Emergency services can find you whether you’re in the thick of a jungle, or the middle of the ocean. Imagine how much faster missing people can be found. The app has been used to save countless missing persons in the UK, including finding a group of refugees smuggled in containers.
Visiting countries with no roads: The app is very useful when it comes to mapping out countries and places that have no roads. For instance, countries like Mongolia and South Africa have adopted the 3-word codes for their postal service. This means that when you travel to those countries, their addresses will be 3-word codes rather than a street address and postcode (which can be inaccurate or hard to find).
How does What3words work?
The app divides the world into 57 trillion squares, and the developers (together with a mathematician) found that there were enough combinations of three words for every location in the world. In fact, only 40,000 words were needed.
If you have the app but want other people to find you, you can simply send them a link to download the app – that’s what emergency services in the UK do when confronted with lost hikers. While mobile data is needed to download the app, it does not need a phone signal to tell someone their three-word location.
Currently the app comes in 35 languages, and even Mercedes Benz is including the system in its cars. If you have the app, check out what your location’s 3-word code is!
You can download the What3words app here, on both Android and iOS.