The Index Project
Index Award 2017 Winners
what3words
A revolutionary addressing system to put everyone, everywhere on the map

what3words is a revolutionary addressing system that has divided the world into 57 trillion 3x3m squares and assigned each with three unique words. It’s designed to put everyone on the map to ensure they’re recognized, identified and found.

Around the world, street addressing is irregular and incomplete; finding an address and communicating it to others is still an imperfect science. At best, poor addressing is expensive and frustrating. At worst, it hampers growth and development, restricts social mobility and affects lives in a big way.

what3words was designed using systematic design thinking with a human-centric focus. It specifies locations more precisely than street addresses by using easy-to-remember words instead of hard-to-memorize GPS numbering systems. For example, “crayon.giants.liking” is a perfect spot in the Grand Canyon to take a picture of the Kaibab Suspension Bridge across the Colorado River. And the Little Mermaid in Copenhagen can be found at “luring.ignoring.wipes”. This information can then be shared with anyone who has the app, or the growing ecosystem of apps that have integrated the what3words code.

what3words provides addresses to homes, buildings, emergency sites or any remote location around the world. It can aid paramedics looking for a patient, mountaineers looking for an avalanche victim, or the postman delivering your mail.

So far, what3words is being used by the postal services of Mongolia, Djibouti, Tonga, Saint Martin, and Côte d’Ivoire, with many more likely to follow. Three-word addresses are also being used by the United Nations (UN), the Red Cross and other emergency response and humanitarian organizations around the world.

Projects like what3words support sustainable improvements to lives all around the world and show how a simple address can ensure that basic services are delivered to those in need. It provides a greater sense of identity, security, and opportunity to people who have not been dignified with the luxury of having an official address.

WHAT3WORDS - 2017 HOME WINNER from INDEX: Design to Improve Life® on Vimeo.