The Australian countryside boasts an incredible diversity of natural landscapes and is home to a thriving agricultural industry worth over A$66 billion. However, poor addressing can be a daily frustration for many people living and working here. Places like fields, barns, and forests have no addresses at all, while rural postcodes cover broad areas and are not accurate enough to direct deliveries, visitors, and vehicles to specific locations, costing precious time and resources.
Chris Sheldrick, CEO of what3words grew up on a farm and developed a new global addressing system by building on his deep understanding of poor addressing and the challenges faced by rural communities around the world. He says:
“When it comes to describing where things are in the middle of a field things can get really complicated. Growing up, I would often spend time waiting by the roadside to flag down incoming delivery vehicles that would otherwise miss our entrance by miles and frequently get stuck down narrow lanes, typical of the British countryside.”
Chris went on to co-found what3words in 2013.
what3words is a really simple way to communicate precise locations quickly and accurately. Every 3 metre square has been given a unique combination of three words: a what3words address. For example ///desire.called.pram is the what3words address for the exact 3 metre square that marks the entrance to burwood brickworks acre farm rooftop.
It is available as a free mobile app and online map at what3words.com – in over 48 languages to date. The app works offline, making it ideal for use in areas of limited connectivity such as national parks, the bush, and remote trails.
what3words is used by thousands of businesses around the world. Automakers are integrating it into navigation systems, enabling drivers of Mercedes-Benz, Mitsubishi, Ford, and Lotus cars to get precise directions using just three words. Ecommerce companies are encouraging customers to use their what3words address at checkout to get faster, more reliable deliveries and emergency services in Australia, the UK, Canada, the US, and Germany are locating callers with what3words – it’s helping them to save precious time, resources and lives every day
How are farmers using what3words
Saving key locations on the farm
Farmers can use precise, human-friendly what3words to record and share key locations, from entrances and gates to fuel storage, water supplies, and fire extinguishers.
Increasing operational efficiency
what3words helps farmers direct people and things to exact locations more easily – from sending an agronomist to an area of poor pasture health, to helping a worker locate the point where an irrigation pipe is leaking.
Emergencies and reporting crime
All emergency services in Australia can use and accept what3words addresses to locate Triple Zero (000) callers. A what3words address is a really simple way for farmers to report the exact location of rural crimes such as illegal dumping to the police, or the location of an agricultural fire to rural fire services.
For example, in an incident involving an injured Bush-Walker on Flinders Island, the three words ‘murky founding spoonfuls’ directed Ambulance Tasmania to her exact location atop a windy cliff-face. Recently, South Australia Police shared a story about a bike rider needing urgent medical assistance from Triple Zero (000). They used what3words so rescue teams were able to assess their response and gain the exact location of the patient.
How to use what3words in an emergency
1. Using the Emergency + app
When you open the Emergency+ app, you’ll see a series of icons for different emergency services in your area. Tap on the relevant icon for your emergency; you’ll get connected to a Triple Zero (000) call taker. When they ask for your location, read out the 3 words displayed at the bottom of your screen in the ‘My Location’ section. Help will then be sent to that exact what3words location.
2. Using the what3words app
Open the what3words app, wait for the blue dot to stabilise to ensure you have the most accurate what3words address, then tap the Locate Me icon – it’s an arrow on iPhones and a target on Android devices. Dial Triple Zero (000) and read the 3 words on your screen to the call taker. They’ll know exactly where to send help.
Meet what3words’ Australian fans
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