Do you use the "What 3 Words" App?

I have been using “What 3 Words” for about 5 years now. Long before then had apps for IOS and android.
This is an incredible addressing system that can lead anyone to your front door.
Oh if they only could have had this in place during my courier days with FedEx. We handled time sensitive materials Door to Door anywhere in the world. This is their service that blends all typed of ground and air transportation to deliver documents or parts anywhere in the world. The shipment only handles things for one customer at a time Door to Door.
I cant tell you how many commercial customers fail to put their street numbers or even their Company name on the building.
EMS and other emergency responders can save precious time. I thought by now this would become a part of every address in every contact list in the world. (Well dream on.) At this point in time I expect that most 911 people don’t know or use it.


I have had it installed in the past, but I didn’t have much use for it. I believe the UK emergency services use it to help locate people who call.

@Leo has mentioned it many times and has been in the Arena in All About Android.

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I think they have patents, and enforce payment for the system for commercial purposes. If that is the case, that is probably a major reason for the delay in any adoption.


They seem to make money by charging for integration of the technology into products, like the satnav in Mercedes cars for example.

Any comment on their privacy, data collection, data sharing policies? Over the last few years I’ve been less and less inclined to use third party apps because of this stuff, especially free apps-- and particularly those that track location.

That said, the core idea here is fantastic.

A interesting TWIT show had Chris Sheldrick from what3words on.

A TED talk here from Chris Sheldrick of what3words.

Good point. Probably explains why Google has not jumped on board. License fees.

While the concept of w3w is interesting and fun to play with, other than the emergency services use case I can’t see where I would use this. I can share a location with a link from Google maps via text or email etc which seems less error prone to me.

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That depends, most of the time you can’t get the same precision. You can indicate where a building is, but not which door to use.

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Not all places have a street number/address. Also for large sites, it is useful for routing a package or delivery to a particular entrance, for example.

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That’s not my experience. If you drop a pin in Google maps it takes you right there. Here’s the entrance to the twit studio:

Dropped pin
Near 1351b Redwood Way, Petaluma, CA 94954, USA

Also all generated Google URLs have tracking embedded. So if I follow your link above, Google will try to find a way to link us.

But try using Google short codes to tell someone where to go. It’s more complicated.

My 3 word address has words gateway and backup.

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[quote=“Pommster, post:2, topic:6018”]
UK emergency services use it

They’re pushing it strongly.

I believe the reasoning is:

  1. Less errors when stressed people are trying to give a location over the phone. An all-digit reference is at risk of accidental transpositions, which may not be obvious at the least significant end but can still have people looking in the wrong place.
  2. Geographic separation of similar sounding words to different continents in W3W makes it easier to catch errors in transcription.
  3. Many first responder call centres have back office systems that were designed primarily for landlines and predate the introduction of mobile phone location data: they can’t route it to the handler with the call.
  4. It only requires a web browser on the receiving end to be able to get a full map location including lat-long coordinates that can be pasted into other applications if needed.
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Fit Bit now has a w3w app. Huge news. Joggers, trail people can be located easily. Now for Google Maps EMS etc to get on board. Don’t know all the details yet. Obviously a cell connection is needed.

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Same. I’m trying to use more FOSS apps where I can.

Annnd here is an opposing viewpoint:

I’ll be wording this post carefully as What 3 Words (W3W) have a tenacious PR team and, probably, have a lot more lawyers than I do.

W3W is a closed product. It is a for-profit company masquerading as an open standard. And that annoys me.

The thing that I didn’t like when this first came out was that cat,duck,goose wasn’t next to cat,duck,cow. But I suppose if they can find a market and they can be helpful then more power to them. But it should be easy to turn lat/long into a code of some sort.

The OpenStreetMap Wiki has some background on why they can’t/won’t use w3w and some “open” alternatives in various states of completeness - some which survived legal action by w3w.

That was by design. They wanted it designed so you’d have little chance of mistaking a mis-entry. If you tell your GPS to go to Africa, from the USA, odds are pretty good you’d know you messed up.


Some concerns with the algorithm here too. Easily confused words used for locations that are close together.