Feb 03, 2021

What3Words: Ready for Anything

by Tom Aldridge, Managing Director


Ever found yourself finding it difficult to describe your exact location? Or worse, trying to identify the exact pick up point for a friend or family member? Which exit of the SSE Hydro do they actually mean? Postcodes can be too vague while grid references are too complex. What3Words has the answer.

What3Words is an incredible app that’s based on a really simple idea. That idea was to break down the entire world, including the world's oceans, into 3 metre square chunks. Each of these individual squares has a unique 3 word combination. And, with 40,000 words available, it makes the reference much simpler to remember and share than a complicated 10-digit map reference.

Here’s how it works. Looking to meet someone at the National Football Museum at Hampden Park in Glasgow? That location is fled.softly.funny. If instead you’re attending a match and need to enter one of the turnstiles at the opposite side of the stadium, your What3Words location could be reduce.vest.former.

There are lots of different ways to take advantage of What3Words. For some, it’s purely a handy resource for their personal lives, while for others, it can help solve some professional challenges. For me, I use it both personally and professionally. Here’s what I think are three of the most beneficial ways to take advantage of this fantastic app.


1. Set a very specific reference point

Scotland’s a small place with a lot of big spaces. Many of those big spaces are notoriously difficult to navigate because they’re often represented by a single post code. Perhaps you need to share a specific access point to a forest. Or, maybe you want to explain to your broker exactly where you garage your Ferrari 275GTB. Using What3Words is perfect for this. Share the 3 word location and take the guesswork out of where that actually is. One less thing to worry about.


2. Find the location of a loved one

And, speaking of worry.

As a parent, giving our kids a bit more freedom as they grow up can definitely come with a bit of anxiety. Where are they? When do they need to be picked up? And crucially, where do they need to be picked up? It’s hard enough for adults to describe exactly where they are, for kids it can be worse, especially if it’s a new place for them. Teaching our kids about the app and how to use it gives me some welcomed peace of mind. Now they just need to text me the three words and I know exactly where they are.


3. In an emergency

In our line of business, we’re well aware that accidents happen. We’re also aware that they happen when and where we least expect them. Factor in the shock of an accident in an unfamiliar location and it can be hard to give emergency call handlers your exact location. That can lead to unnecessary delays to get you the help you need. What3Words is used by emergency services throughout the world. And, yes, that includes the UK. It quite literally can be a lifesaver. One of our colleagues spoke to a Police Scotland emergency call handler recently to get their perspective on the app. Here’s what they had to say.


“What3Words is a fantastic resource, we use it a lot. Plus the satellite images are fantastic. It’s definitely saved quite a few people lost on hills and involved in crashes in remote locations.”


Whether you're using it for personal peace of mind and convenience or to be more efficient professionally, there’s no denying that What3Words is an incredibly powerful app. It’s a simple and intuitive solution to a very real problem. And, with Mercedes recently increasing their stake in the business to 10% and committing to integrate What3Words into their vehicles, it’s clear they have a very bright future ahead of them.


I’d encourage everyone to check it out. It’s available for free on iOS and Android. And, it’s also available online as a web app by visiting What3Words.com. If you use the app and are in a sharing mood, let us know how you use the app.

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Blackford is a trading name of Blackford Group Limited, (Firm Reference 831508). Registered Office: Blackford Group Limited, 26 Charlotte Square, Edinburgh EH2 4ET (Registered SC616744). Blackford Group Limited is an Appointed Representative of James Hallam Limited, authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (Firm Reference 134435).


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