The 3 random words that could save your life

The 3 random words that could save your life

Revolutionary way to communicate exact location within a 10-foot square anywhere on the planet

by Kurt Knutsson

The Los Angeles Fire Department thought the new location technology from What3Words would help rescuers find missing victims lost in the wilderness. What3Words worked so well at pinpointing exact locations for the fire department, that they are using it more widely throughout the city.

What3Words is a new genius idea that gives every 10 square foot box on the earth a randomly assigned three unique word combination that communicates the location of the spot more accurately than any map. The idea is that What3Words would be the replacement of the commonly used GPS latitude and longitude coordinates and with good reason.

Long numbers and decimal points are complicated and not easy to remember. Not easy to communicate to others. What3Words is simplicity and location communication at its best.

For example, here is a list of popular locations and their corresponding what3words location:

Statue of Liberty = ///react.spoil.robe
The White House = ///kicks.mirror.tops
My favorite island in the Maldives = ///opts.reputations.gadgets
The Eiffel Tower in Paris = /// prices.slippery.traps

Try looking up your front door where you live on What3Words to see what three words separated by periods come up.

Jump with me back to the time I was studying for my US Coast Guard captain’s license. One of the first things you are taught is to know the number of people on board and their location in the event of an emergency. Knowing the simple three words of your position would allow the dispatch of a rescue helicopter within 10 feet of those words.

In the future, when you call 9-1-1 and hear, “911 emergency, what’s the nature of your emergency?”. After that, you are likely to be uttering the three words that steer the response to that specific location with just those three words.

There are several other potential uses for What3Words. That’s why IKEA has invested in the new location technology in hopes that it can streamline deliveries of its goods.

I’ve been reporting on technology innovations long enough to know that What3Words is highly likely to revolutionize how we communicate locations universally.

Get ready, it would not surprise me that you may be addressing an envelope in the coming days with a name and the 3 words that define how to the postal service delivers the letter with the greatest accuracy.

More ways to have others locate you in an emergency:




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Ruth Anne H Lawson July 24, 2021 - 9:59 am

I do not understand how I would know the three words if I were lost in the woods or on a highway. I see how it is useful at home, but if I leave home, do I have to look up the three words every few miles?

Kurt Knutsson July 31, 2021 - 1:20 pm

Hi Ruth Anne – Outstanding question. When I was stuck in New Orleans during and after Hurricane Katrina, I had not downloaded any sort of latitude/longitude app on my iPhone (iPhones were quite brand new then).. it took the better part of a day to find the exact target to send to a rescue helicopter to land. What3Words would have changed all that. You do not need WiFi or cellular for the app to tell What3Words define your exact location. If and when you could send a text (mine took hours to send awaiting rescue, and hours to receive a text reply) you could simple send a shorter text with the three words or share them if briefly able to connect to cellular at some point. Presuming a search party is sent to find you when you go missing, the first responder who may be in the air could share back your exact location in 3 words to other rescuers. It is far easier and I imagine less likely to make an error over a radio etc when saying three words rather than announcing 10+ digits of GPS coordinates.


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