If you’ve ever pondered how many 3-meter squares would cover the entire globe, the answer is around 57 trillion. And as of 2013, each of those 57 trillion squares has been assigned a three-word address.
The square from which you’re reading this has its own unique address, perhaps it’s “///livery.coalition.quartet.” Your home, office, and children’s school have multiple addresses as well. Is this the makings of a worldwide parlor game, or a revolution in mapping, addressing, and geo-location?
Regarding the latter, more than 75% of the world’s 7.4 billion people don’t have a reliable address. The London-based company that created the algorithm to convert GPS coordinates into unique three-word addresses, what3words, is working with global partners in diverse applications from postal services, tourism, and emergency services to disaster relief, infrastructure, and logistics & deliveries.
The applications are not limited to the third world, but expand to developed countries with well-defined addresses — and those working in fleet.
For instance, a new delivery driver given the street address of Bobit Business Media’s headquarters in Torrance, Calif. might attempt to drop a package at the front entrance instead of the loading dock at the back of the building. Using what3word’s assigned address for the loading dock (“///dinner.part.pounds”) the driver would’ve saved a few minutes.
Now imagine the time lost trying to find the right door on a much larger corporate campus, drop equipment at a vast construction site, or deliver a client to a meeting point — and then multiply that by thousands of occurrences.
“Technology has driven huge improvements in mapping and navigation in recent years,” says Ashley Marie Cashion, vice president, USA for what3words. “That’s given businesses and fleets a clearer picture of where their drivers and customers are, but the central part of this experience — identifying a specific location — remains a serious issue.”
Cashion references and estimate from UPS — the company famous for routing its trucks to avoid left turns — that saving each of their drivers one mile would recoup $50 million a year for the business.
“Having to search for the right drop-off location not only adds up to lost time and extra costs for e-commerce, delivery and logistics companies, but also creates a poor experience for customers and consignees, who spend time having to give lengthy directions to couriers over the phone,” she says.
Last year, Mercedes-Benz became the first automaker to integrate what3words by installing it in the infotainment system of the 2018 Mercedes A-Class, with a wider rollout this year. The system is specifically designed for voice input, eliminating one of the frustrations of using voice to enter traditional street addresses, Cashion says.
The integration allows drivers to navigate to any precise point in the entire world, including parks, beaches, parking lots, temporary sites, or a landmark in a forest.
Route optimization systems, ride-hailing apps, and enterprise resource planning (ERP) software companies have integrated what3words, with more partnerships planned, Cashion says. The company is set to open an office in San Francisco to serve the U.S.
Cashion will present the seminar “New Global Location Technology and the Potential for Fleets and Logistics” at the 2018 Fleet Forward Conference, convening Oct. 8-10 in San Francisco.
“We’re working to make what3words the new standard in global addressing,” she says. “And we’re looking forward to sharing our plans, including actual case studies and specific systems integrations, with fleet audiences at the Fleet Forward event.”