Business Unusual

4 billion people still don't have addresses. 3 words can change that

The Extinction Timeline declared that by 2014 getting lost would be obsolete. Devices with location services would be so widespread that it would be harder to get lost than to be found.

That is partly true, but finding someone - or somewhere - has relied on two slightly outdated methods that don’t really work that well with humans:

Latitude and Longitude and GPS

A highly accurate means for locating any point on Earth, but almost impossible to remember. This is the address for the Primedia offices in Cape Town - -33.912720, 18.416497.

Mix up a number, read the numbers the wrong way around or forget a minus sign and your location can move by thousands of kilometres. (See the much simpler name below)

Addresses

The idea of naming buildings is not new, but according to the United Nations there are still billions that don’t have one. The Constitutional Court recently ruled that the IEC was required to maintain a voters roll that included addresses which is not going to be easy as many informal areas have yet to be allocated one.

Mongolia has opted to add the new system.

Naming streets

You might not think there is a difference between a road and a street, but they have had specific meanings through history. Paths that were paved by the Romans during their expansion in Europe were called Via Strata (paved roads).

They were created to allow armies and their equipment to easily move to where they were needed. Stratos in ancient Greek is army.

Since then some have reserved streets to be used in urban settings while roads connect urban areas, but conventions vary widely. Japan never had names for most minor roads, they named the block that was surrounded by the roads. Over time the creation of published maps saw more areas following a similar convention to make sending and receiving post easier.

The Postal Service

Initially, it was reserved for government communications for distributing laws and communications to military outposts. The Romans were some of the first to allow citizens to use the system too.

Post offices were located along main routes and in towns and cities. When private deliveries began a numbering system was used.

The only real improvement in the last 200 years has been postal codes, which were also numbers (so not easy to remember when they were long), or number and letter combinations (which are not easy to remember).

What3Words

The solution which does not use any of the previous ideas for locations divides the planet into 57 trillion squares. Each square is three metres by three metres and is allocated a three-word address.

The company is simply called What3Words.

To create all the squares you only need 40 000 words so simple, easy-to-spell-and-say words are selected.

The Primedia Cape Town offices cover an area with multiple 3x3 metres blocks so the chosen address could be regulated.soundbites.builders while our Joburg offices are at vague.vocals.hang

It is can be fun seeing what the names for certain addresses are; Mossack Fontseca’s Panama offices are at bumps.stealing.terminal

They exist in multiple languages and don’t require you to replace your normal address, just add this new one.

Another benefit of the very local addresses is that if you were going to meet someone at a shopping mall, or a stadium, you can specify the exact location.

Because it covers the entire planet, it could make search and rescue options easier as precise locations can be communicated more easily.

The business model allows anyone to access the map for free, while options to navigate or integrate into business options are paid for to access the API.

It is being used here in South Africa by the already very innovative Sizwe Nzima who delivers medication by bicycle in Khayelitsha. There are many homes that don’t have formal addresses, so his Iyeza Express uses the three word grid. They are located at 19 Sixuxujikati Street in Khayelitsha and can also be reached by visiting packet.moves.youthful

CapeTalk welcomes all comments that are constructive, contribute to discussions in a meaningful manner and take stories forward.

However, we will NOT condone the following:

  • Racism (including offensive comments based on ethnicity and nationality)
  • Sexism
  • Homophobia
  • Religious intolerance
  • Cyber bullying
  • Hate speech
  • Derogatory language
  • Comments inciting violence.

We ask that your comments remain relevant to the articles they appear on and do not include general banter or conversation as this dilutes the effectiveness of the comments section.

We strive to make the CapeTalk community a safe and welcoming space for all.

CapeTalk reserves the right to: 1) remove any comments that do not follow the above guidelines; and, 2) ban users who repeatedly infringe the rules.

Should you find any comments upsetting or offensive you can also flag them and we will assess it against our guidelines.

CapeTalk is constantly reviewing its comments policy in order to create an environment conducive to constructive conversations.

Read More
Humans will be returning to the moon, but how will they be fed?

Humans will be returning to the moon, but how will they be fed?

The space race has typically focused on the massive rockets needed to get there, now we need to ensure there is enough to eat.

Defining the Earth we hope to see in 2050

Defining the Earth we hope to see in 2050

Asking what the world will look like in 30 years allows us to start doing what is needed to achieve it.

Bitcoin, Uber and GoPro - how the mighty are challenged - Part 3

Bitcoin, Uber and GoPro - how the mighty are challenged - Part 3

Becoming a world disrupting new technology is not the end of the journey, it may not even be the hardest part.

Bitcoin, Uber and GoPro - how the mighty are challenged - Part 2

Bitcoin, Uber and GoPro - how the mighty are challenged - Part 2

Becoming a world disrupting new technology is not the end of the journey, it may not even be the hardest part.

Bitcoin, Uber and GoPro - how the mighty are challenged - Part 1

Bitcoin, Uber and GoPro - how the mighty are challenged - Part 1

Becoming a world disrupting new technology is not the end of the journey, it may not even be the hardest part.

Are retail shops only going to get smaller now?

Are retail shops only going to get smaller now?

How advances in online retail and delivery options will begin to change the size and nature of physical shops.

Popular articles
Cape's blusterous winds too risky for the Mercedez Benz fashion week

Cape's blusterous winds too risky for the Mercedez Benz fashion week

Several shows of the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Cape Town 2017 had to be postponed due to the gusting winds.

Naked Scientist reveals the real cure for a hangover (and its not hot wings!)

Naked Scientist reveals the real cure for a hangover (and its not hot wings!)

Dr Chris Smith gives insights on what peaks your interest.

The rand is on a rampage

The rand is on a rampage

The rand is going from strength to strength. The Money Show’s Bruce Whitfield interviews Treasury One’s Andre Cilliers.

[CARTOON] Poephol With a Taste For Strife

[CARTOON] Poephol With a Taste For Strife

EWN's Dr Jack & Curtis take a look at the Spur confrontation that has taken the country by a storm.

Spur tightens its belt as 'two for the price of one' Monday burger special ends

Spur tightens its belt as 'two for the price of one' Monday burger special ends

The CEO of Spur says food inflation has played a big role in making this difficult decision.

3 emergency numbers you should have on speed dial and how they work

3 emergency numbers you should have on speed dial and how they work

These are the emergency numbers you should have on your cellphone and this is what you must understand about how they work.