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Have you ever tried giving someone directions but find it difficult to pinpoint specific locations? Maybe the relevant address encompasses a large area; or maybe the area of concern is more rural, lacking traditional signage. Often times campers or hikers need to designate certain landmarks to avoid getting lost or have a known central meeting place. But in-exact methods can raise issues, especially in emergency situations.

While parts of tracking individuals have become easier with GPS-empowered devices being carried by most of the population at any given time, there are still shortcomings that can lead to vagueness when specificity is required. Exact locations can be discerned through cross referencing longitude and latitude, but a long series of digits has had difficulty catching for the wider public.

That brings us to an app that seeks to take the strain out of location sharing: what3words. Founded in 2013, what3words creates a new method to determine exact locations. What3words takes the world map and divides it in to 57 trillion squares. These squares are about 10 square feet and are assigned ‘three-word’ addresses. These are randomly-generated words that have no direct relation. This makes a wholly unique code which references the 10x10 squares all over the globe. Say you want to meet someone at a large conference and determining landmarks is difficult. What3words can provide a reference point for both parties to use and meet at a very specific location. What if someone is injured while hiking in a rural park? Will trail markers and vague directions be enough to reach that person before the situation become much worse? Providing rescue workers with a 3-word ‘address’ would cut down the search time significantly, and potentially save a life.

More and more municipalities are adopting what3words as a way to help with locating and indexing initial problems and larger crime indexes. Whenever travelling, especially abroad or in rural areas, a specific tracking system could be the difference between a tragic event or a close call.