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What3words?

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Mount Solon, VA
Is anybody familiar with the what3words app? A friend just sent me this story about its use in a search and rescue operation.


Software developers have created the what3words app, which divides the Earth's surface into trillions of 3 meter x 3 meter squares, each identified by a unique combination of three words. Reportedly the verbal identifiers are easier to use than the digital identifiers of GPS coordinates. When cell phone service is available, the app will link to either Google Maps or Apple Maps.

I'm skeptical. What's wrong with good ol' latitude and longitude? It's a universal system with a long history of development. The possibility of confusion or transposed digits is a non-issue when coordinates are transmitted via devices such as Zoleo or InReach, or when rescue services can triangulate the coordinates from a cell phone signal. What3words is no help unless both the rescuer and rescuee are using the system, and then only in areas where a signal is available.

Seems to me the hiker in this article was just another clueless and unprepared individual relying on an electronic device, rather than his own skills, to get him out of a jam. Darwin has been thwarted again.
 
It's actually been around for a while now. I believe Mercedes integrated it with their navigation systems starting in 2020 model years - not sure if they're still using it.

My garage has a cool name: the Shovel Croak Gatehouse.
 
What's wrong with good ol' latitude and longitude? It's a universal system with a long history of development. The possibility of confusion or transposed digits is a non-issue when coordinates are transmitted via devices such as Zoleo or InReach,

IDK, I work phone customer service, and the ways that people can mess up numbers - familiar numbers, like their own phone or ZIP - in low-stress contexts has to be experienced to be believed, plus all the issues with audio distortion. I would not want to try to get my customers to be precise about lat/long while they are tired, hungry and anxious.

I feel like this isn't targeted at the more technical/prepped wilderness adventurer, who probably does have a proper beacon, and hopefully more training. This is for the sort of thing in the article: a casual hiker who's probably just around the trailbend, but not sure of where. 3 words to transfer data between non-interconnected systems that might have spotty audio might be the simple solution.
 
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