Lost in the woods? Fallen down a well? Call mountain rescue and these days you’ll more than likely be advised to immediately download an app called What3words.Â
In essence, itâ€™s a tool thatâ€™s able to precisely pinpoint your coordinates and that also converts them into a three word reference thatâ€™s easy to read, remember and communicate.
35 emergency service units in England and Wales have so far signed up to it, including branches of the police and mountain rescue and now us outdoor enthusiasts are all being urged to be proactive and get it on our phones.
“Marble.messaging.hacksaw. Thatâ€™s the precise summit of Ben Nevis.”
What3words points to a very specific location, one thatâ€™s much more accurate than using a simple pin drop on Google Maps.
Its developers split the world (somehow) into 57 trillion 10ft by 10ft squares and assigned each one with a three-word address.
Marble.messaging.hacksaw. Thatâ€™s the precise summit of Ben Nevis.
Timing.coast.vibes. Thatâ€™s where I got caught accidentally doing 30mph in a 20 zone yesterday.
The app originally began as a start-up in Hertfordshire. Its founder Chris Sheldrick worked in the music industry where one of his day-to-day jobs was getting musicians to specific locations, but he often had difficulty trying to communicate coordinates to people who couldn’t understand them. This had him thinking about whether he might be able to find a simpler way and, after conversation with a mathematician, all of a sudden a business idea started to take shape.
What3words is now converted to over 35 different languages, fully adopted by UK coastguard, used as the primary location reference for the Mongolian post service and features throughout the Lonely Planet website.Â
Go give it a look. It could be handy, not just as that just-in-case safety measure, but also as a way of finding people when you’re meeting up with them, or for, say, just sharing the location of an amazing viewpoint.