We all know the limitations of the UK Post Code system. On average, a post code will cover about 15 premises although - dependent on density - it can be anything from 1 to 100. Delivery drivers for online shopping face problems daily in finding the right property. Is there a better system? Well potentially there is and it is positively mind-blowing. Most of us are familiar with the GPS system used for satellite navigation. Given a set of GPS coordinates it is possible to define an area of about 3 to 8 metres in size. Anyone who has experimented with Geo-Caching (finding objects hidden in a location by tracking their coordinates) will have experienced this. The trouble is that when a GPS system attempts to find a location relative to a particular post code the area covered can be anything up to half a mile.
Scientists and mathematicians have worked round this by working out the surface area of the world and dividing it into small squares of land (or sea) that measure about 3 metres by 3 metres - roughly the size of a small room. The number of such squares is 56 trillion or 56 followed by 12 zeros. But how do you make reference to an individual square other than by a complex set of number coordinates? Well, a UK company has come up with the answer in their system they call What 3 Words.
They have worked out that by using a 40,000 word dictionary (which can be in any language) and using 3 different words selected from this dictionary and using them separated by a dot they can create a unique reference readable by humans. For example: slurs.this.shark is the address of the front door of No 10 Downing Street. I promise I didn't make this up!
OK you say, how can just 40,000 words cover the whole world? Easy; the possible permutations using these words is 40,000 x 40,000 x 40,000 which is approximately 64 trillion. More than enough to cover 56 trillion squares on the surface of the world. Go and have a look at https://what3words.com/.