What3words geolocation

MichaelW2

Veteran
Does anyone use or see the need to use what3words geolocation system.
The concept is to divide the surface of the globe into 3x3m squares and assign a three word name to each square.
The words are chosen from a big list and assigned in a quasi random fashion, taking into the account similar sounding words etc. Different languages have different lists that do not translate.

The problems are neatly sumerised here

I put this in touring since you guys are more navigation minded but willing to move to a more appropriate area to expand the discussion.

Yay or nay?
 

mjr

Comfy armchair to one person & a plank to the next
Rubbish. Attempt to create a monopoly so they can charge people at will.

Plus.codes are better.
 

annedonnelly

Girl from the North Country
We do loads at work with grid references - we manage observations of wildlife so need to know the location. We've looked at what3words & it's fun to find out what the words are for different places. And I can see that for some people it's easier than understanding something like NZ313798 or latitude = 55.111619, longitude = -1.5108843.

However, I've seen someone looking at it and he didn't understand one of the three words given - it was simply a word he'd not come across before & he didn't know how to pronounce it. So if he'd been trying to alert the emergency services to his location they'd have struggled to find where he meant.

It feels a bit like a gimmick to me, but perhaps there are areas of the world where it would be more useful.
 

LeetleGreyCells

Cycliste en formation
I know that some emergency services are using it. When on a group ride on the TPT, we came across a woman who had been riding her e-trike when the weld in front of the folding bracket sheared and off she went. The emergency call centre operator asked for our Whats3Words location.

I know another club rider who on calling 999 was asked to install the app then give location.

It looks like it’s here to stay for now despite issues noted above.
 

PaulSB

Legendary Member
My current GPS location is on the hardshoulder of the M61. In fact I'm in bed with a coffee - sadly Google maps knows this. What3words thinks I'm on the M61!

I'm awake early and with not much else to do browsed CC and read this thread. I followed the OP's link and then wondering if the link was incorrect searched on Google for the website. Both methods gave me the same result - a map for the home page with no explanation of its purpose. I looked around a little and still found no easy explanation.

I've no interest in using this but have to ask one question. Why would the home page not immediately make clear what this is about?

My experience is generally this - crap website = crap company or idea.

I have a phone which tells me my location already. What else do I need? If I don't have my phone with me how can I use the app? Basically this is a marketing exercise filled with pitfalls. If I visit China how does that work?

I live in a small village covered by a single post code. If I enter the post code I get one set of words and a location about 800 yards from my house. If I enter the village name I get a different set of words and entering my street address it can't find me!!!!! If I use the suggested address it places me on a road in a neighbouring village three miles away. Brilliant product.

Complete nonsense in my opinion.
 
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Lavender Rose

Specialized Fan Girl
Location
Ashford, Kent
I think the app is brilliant, I do trail running and cycling - often alone and I have tested it in all sorts of remote locations. Plus my friend volunteers for a trekking rescue and people do use it and it's reliable.

Don't all jump on me! :wacko::laugh:
 

Dogtrousers

Kilometre nibbler
I remember reading about this when it first emerged. Iirc it won second prize in some ideas competition or other. Don't remember what won. Never heard of it again until now.

I thought that it was a clever way of getting round the complexity of coordinate systems. But it looks like it's still a solution looking for a problem.

@mjr what is it that they've done that is unethical? As noted above I've not heard anything about it since it was first mooted years ago.
 
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Milkfloat

Guru
Location
Midlands
Aside from the fact that it is proprietary,closed, they charge for usage and premium words and have a horrible PR and Legal ethos, the main problem for me is the geolocation aspect.

-The words are totally random, which means you have no way of knowing where something is or where it is related to, for example, if they were smart they would have used the first word as a country, then perhaps a 1x1km square for the second word and finally use the last word for the specific location.
-It is not international, you need to know the w3w in many languages, for example - in English it could be ///dog.sausage.helmet, but in French ///embouchure.adjuger.saladier, translated back (probably badly) as ///mouth.award.bowl. From speaking to my colleagues around the world they often say that the words are nonsense in the local language and they need a dictionary to find out the meaning
-They use plurals of the same words for different locations. So in my example above, assume that is for a place in Birmingham, if ///dog.sausage.helmet what communicated by someone as ///dogs.sausage.helmet the rescuer could be headed to Australia
-There is no 3D element, what about people in high rise buildings?

As an aside - many years ago the company I worked for paid me a bounty for an idea, they they did not patent it and dropped it, Google have a very open version of it that is almost identical - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Open_Location_Code
 

glasgowcyclist

Charming but somewhat feckless
Location
Scotland
It is not international, you need to know the w3w in many languages, for example - in English it could be ///dog.sausage.helmet, but in French ///embouchure.adjuger.saladier, translated back (probably badly) as ///mouth.award.bowl.
It doesn't matter if you don't know the language, you only need to share the w3w string to the other party. Whether you do that in English or Italian doesn't matter, the string will return the same location.
 

Milkfloat

Guru
Location
Midlands
It doesn't matter if you don't know the language, you only need to share the w3w string to the other party. Whether you do that in English or Italian doesn't matter, the string will return the same location.
True, but if you sharing foreign words the chances of writing them down incorrectly go up massively. If you are sharing via a cut and paste, then you might as well use a non-propriety lat/lon or a plus code.
 
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mjr

Comfy armchair to one person & a plank to the next
It doesn't matter if you don't know the language, you only need to share the w3w string to the other party. Whether you do that in English or Italian doesn't matter, the string will return the same location.
But if you're sharing strings over text or web or IM or whatever, then it's as easy to share plus.codes or even a geo: link and then you don't have to rely on the private w3w database.

The main benefit of w3w seems to be being a bit quicker to give in speech, but the use of plurals and obscure words undermines that, plus if you need to have a computer or web link anyway to decode a w3w, why are you using speech instead of sending strings anyway? Yes, a dodgy solution looking for its problem and another case of trying to give a pig sufficient thrust to fly...
 
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