What3words

General cycling advice ( NOT technical ! )
mercalia
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Kicked. Converged. Soccer. An alternative to latitude & longitude?

Postby mercalia » 15 Aug 2019, 9:24am

What3words: The app that can save your life

I saw this item about an easy way to tell people where you are. seems like there is an app that will do the work.
Any one here tried it?

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-49319760
Last edited by mercalia on 15 Aug 2019, 12:27pm, edited 2 times in total.

whoof
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Re: Kicked. Converged. Soccer.

Postby whoof » 15 Aug 2019, 9:52am

No but there have been ads on the radio about this for about one month.

On the same subject there is a myth that if you phone 112 in an emergency your positon can be determined more accurately than by phoning 999, it can't.

st599_uk
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Re: Kicked. Converged. Soccer.

Postby st599_uk » 15 Aug 2019, 11:44am

Looks quite interesting.

They have basically come up with an algorithm that creates a unique 3 word key for every 3m x 3m block on the Earth's surface.

Lonely Planet have started putting them in guide books. The app allows you to input the key and then use another navigation app on the phone (like google maps) to take you there. I've also seen it appearing on a lot of German websites to allow you to find a shop.

Perhaps it's something that cycle.travel and Osmand should look at - there's an API on the website to transform from Lat Long to Three Words and back.
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simonhill
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Re: Kicked. Converged. Soccer.

Postby simonhill » 15 Aug 2019, 12:03pm

I read about it on the BBC this morning and was just about to post about it. Lucky I read this post first, although the subject line was hardly informative. Maybe worth changing it as this could be a useful facility for some.

The article implies that our emergency services are using it and encouraging people to use it. Does anyone have any experience of how widespread it is.

I have a Grid Ref app on my phone and thought I would use that to locate anything I needed to report. I often wondered if the emergency services would be able to use a grid ref.

I have now downloaded this app called what3words and it works for my house. I could also find the location of this post's subject line and a street in a small French town.

I can see this as useful for locating things like hotels, bike shops, etc in foreign lands where addresses are often confusing.

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nick12
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Re: Kicked. Converged. Soccer. An alternative to latitude & longitude?

Postby nick12 » 15 Aug 2019, 12:37pm

I am doing a chainsaw course today and the instructor has reccomended we use what 3 words for location and write ot down on our risk aassesment for emergensy Services to locate our location when doing forestery work

mercalia
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Re: Kicked. Converged. Soccer. An alternative to latitude & longitude?

Postby mercalia » 15 Aug 2019, 12:44pm


Richard Fairhurst
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Re: Kicked. Converged. Soccer. An alternative to latitude & longitude?

Postby Richard Fairhurst » 15 Aug 2019, 2:04pm

Pretty much everyone who works in location technology (and hasn't been hired by what3words) agrees that it's a terrible product.

It's not so much the idea, which is quite smart, but the fact that it's proprietary, secret technology which they charge for. Imagine if, every time you ordered something online, the delivery company had to pay to find out where "10 High Street" is. That's basically what what3words does.

Lots and lots of commentary online: https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/ ... ad/487160/ is quite a balanced piece, https://shkspr.mobi/blog/2019/03/why-bo ... ree-words/ and https://blog.ldodds.com/2016/06/14/what ... g-on-mate/ are typical of the sceptical reactions.

People who are smarter than me tend to reckon that their end-game is to get bought by a massive tech co (Google or Uber or somesuch), which is an even scarier outcome.
cycle.travel - maps, journey-planner, route guides and city guides

mercalia
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Re: Kicked. Converged. Soccer. An alternative to latitude & longitude?

Postby mercalia » 15 Aug 2019, 2:18pm

I was wondering why in the example the BBC gave they didn't have a mapping app that gave conventional long & lat. Rather negligent of them?

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Audax67
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Re: Kicked. Converged. Soccer. An alternative to latitude & longitude?

Postby Audax67 » 15 Aug 2019, 3:19pm

I'm imagining someone French trying to tell English emergency services that they're at jointure.cosmopolitisme.dévouant.
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mercalia
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Re: Kicked. Converged. Soccer. An alternative to latitude & longitude?

Postby mercalia » 15 Aug 2019, 4:40pm

I read from the article above that the creator of OpenStreetMap works for them.

Richard Fairhurst
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Re: Kicked. Converged. Soccer. An alternative to latitude & longitude?

Postby Richard Fairhurst » 15 Aug 2019, 6:55pm

Steve has worked for pretty much everyone in the last 15 years :lol:
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mercalia
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Re: Kicked. Converged. Soccer. An alternative to latitude & longitude?

Postby mercalia » 15 Aug 2019, 8:59pm

well thanks for the article refs as they put a differnt complexion on things?

roberts8
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What3words

Postby roberts8 » 19 Aug 2019, 7:32pm

I have just been shown What3words and wondered if anyone uses it as it looks good for directing someone to a remote location in an emergency. Is it useful or just a novelty app?

profpointy
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Re: What3words

Postby profpointy » 19 Aug 2019, 8:08pm

We already have national grid numbers which you can directly find on a map just by looking, as do other countries. Or you could use lat and long.

Clever gimmick but the BBC should really know better than to advertise someone's commercial product

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LinusR
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Re: What3words

Postby LinusR » 19 Aug 2019, 8:59pm

profpointy wrote:We already have national grid numbers which you can directly find on a map just by looking, as do other countries. Or you could use lat and long.

Clever gimmick but the BBC should really know better than to advertise someone's commercial product


I've always been taught to use the national grid numbers when contacting the emergency services, especially outside of a built up area like on a country footpath or bridleway. But the first time I had to use this skill (to get help for an elderly woman who had broken her hip on a bridleway while walking her dog) I was surprised to find that the emergency service operator for the ambulance service did not know what I was on about and asked me instead to give some other clue to the location. The operator seemed to have Google maps in front of them. Other people have also reported that the EMS do not know how to use OS Grid References as the comments here describe https://singletrackworld.com/2019/08/what3words-for-singletrack-the-navigation-app-that-is-saving-lives/#comments

So is What3Words intended to get around the lack of basic navigation knowledge for EMS operators?
Last edited by LinusR on 19 Aug 2019, 9:15pm, edited 1 time in total.