Yet Another Cycling Forum

General Category => The Knowledge => GPS => Topic started by: woollypigs on March 27, 2019, 08:13:15 am

Title: what 3 words
Post by: woollypigs on March 27, 2019, 08:13:15 am
I looked at this some years ago, quite neat.

https://what3words.com

Making your location easier to find/say to others and sometimes makes a funny sentence too. See you here - steadfast.marketplaces.ironworkers ? https://w3w.co/steadfast.marketplaces.ironworkers


Now some of the UK emergency services have started to use it, so it is catching on.

https://what3words.com/2019/03/uk-emergency-services-rollout-what3words-in-control-rooms-to-save-resources-time-and-lives/

Title: Re: what 3 words
Post by: FifeingEejit on March 27, 2019, 10:26:43 am
It's basically a rehash of the national grid thats been in use in various forms since the 1930s...
Except unlike the grid it won't work if you don't have a working GPS locater handy...
Title: Re: what 3 words
Post by: orienteer on March 27, 2019, 12:39:10 pm
Being 2D, it doesn't identify individual premises in multi-storey buildings.
Title: Re: what 3 words
Post by: Feanor on March 27, 2019, 12:52:59 pm
Is there an algorithm for determining the 3 words, given your location?
Or is it purely a hooting great rainbow table?
Title: Re: what 3 words
Post by: quixoticgeek on March 27, 2019, 01:01:33 pm
It's basically a rehash of the national grid thats been in use in various forms since the 1930s...
Except unlike the grid it won't work if you don't have a working GPS locater handy...

No. Not really.

National grid only really covers the UK, and it's complex and hard for many people to communicate. Small errors in transcription can cause massive errors in where you end up. Especially if read over a poor phone line.

"Where are you?"
"TEE ARE 123456"
"Ok, See you at PEE ARE 123456"
"No, TEE ARE"
"Eh"
"TANGO ROMEO"
"AAAH"

Where as with What3Words, it's just "Purple.Monkey.Dishwasher" And because of the algorithm, Purple.Monkey.Pirate, is going to be thousands of kilometers away so you can easily check you're in the right ball park.

But the real development of what3words comes from the fact that the whole data structure fits in 10MB of disk/memory. And it works world wide.

When you consider how few countries have functional post codes (NL, UK, Eire, are a minority), and how many countries don't have actual addresses. What3words is actually an amazing invention. Sure it's not that much use to Brits, or the Dutch. But to someone in Mongolia, or the Ivory Coast, it's revolutionary. Having a postal address makes it a lot easier for people to participate in the process of government. The bureaucracy of a modern functioning society requires the ability of the government to send you information, be it a poling card, or an agricultural subsidy form. For that you need an address.

Yes what3words is a private enterprise, it's not an open standard. *BUT*, it's a beginning, and it really is revolutionary.

If you don't believe me, meet me at thinker.managed.groom, we can discuss it over a pint. It really is a great project.

J
Title: Re: what 3 words
Post by: quixoticgeek on March 27, 2019, 01:03:02 pm
Is there an algorithm for determining the 3 words, given your location?
Or is it purely a hooting great rainbow table?

Yes, and No.

It's a proprietary algorithm that sits in just 10MB of memory. If it was a rainbow table, it would require thousands of MB of storage. It's this fitting it into 10MB that is what is revolutionary about this approach.

J
Title: Re: what 3 words
Post by: Cudzoziemiec on March 27, 2019, 01:07:39 pm
They said when it was launched that one of the main uses they foresaw was for deliveries and service provision (electricity etc) in non-addressed places, such as slums, informal constructions and new developments. I'm not sure it necessarily ties in with government uses.
Title: Re: what 3 words
Post by: Riggers on March 27, 2019, 01:14:48 pm
I hope I'm not the only one, but I just don't understand it. Looked at my own address, and it said: 'bollocks, knob, cheese'.
Title: Re: what 3 words
Post by: fuaran on March 27, 2019, 01:15:10 pm
Yes, it is a proprietary system. So you have to use their website or their app. Seems like a bad idea to rely on it for any business or government use.
But it seems they are doing a good job of marketing and getting publicity anyway.

This is more fun. http://www.what3fucks.com/
Or a more polite option. http://what3ducks.com/
Or https://what3emojis.com/
Or http://www.what3ikea.com/
Title: Re: what 3 words
Post by: quixoticgeek on March 27, 2019, 01:25:10 pm
They said when it was launched that one of the main uses they foresaw was for deliveries and service provision (electricity etc) in non-addressed places, such as slums, informal constructions and new developments. I'm not sure it necessarily ties in with government uses.

Yes, that too. I remember reading an article about how it was used to get more nomads to vote.

Having an address opens up all sorts of things for people. Having an efficient address even more so. Here in .NL, you could write my name on an envelope, with "1066EA 1, Netherlands" and it will get to me (that's not my home address). In the UK "Name, 10 CT2 7NT, UK"  Is enough for an address. All that other stuff we put on an envelope is redundant cruft. The postcode + house number is all you need. Unfortunately this isn't the case of all countries. In Belgium 1200 is the postcode of all of Antwerp. Germany and France's post code system is similarly stupid.

Being able to use liability.ramming.chips or influence.eyeliner.nozzles as an address is amazingly efficient. Having a system for 57 TRILLION locations that fits in just 10MB, is a real achievement.

We've had other systems for global location, but they are all clunky as hell. WGS84 Lat/Long is in theory useful, but you then have 3 ways of writing it dd.dddddE, dd.dddddN, dd°mm'ssE dd°mm'ss'N dd°mm.mmmm E, dd°mm.mmmmm, and when it comes to route planning between them, it's kinda clunky as you're doing base 60 maths, and it's a pain due to circles. This is why UTM was invented. With UTM, the base unit is a meter, and you can use basic Pythagoras and trig to calculate the location between two points. But it's a compromise, and esp at the edge of each zone, things can get blurry. I had a custom printed map of an area of Norway made, and they printed a valid UTM grid over it, but it wasn't the ideal UTM grid, meaning that had I used that map to read off coordinates, I would have got a position upto 3-4km away. In an emergency that would be enough to send the SAR team to the wrong place. Positioning systems are hard. *REALLY* hard.

What3words is something that can be used and understood by average people who just want to be able to say their Yurt is at impartially.lists.scrambled.

It's also been used by things like the superbowl, and festivals. You've got some drunks in a stadium, how do you radio the location in? "Um, bottom end of corridor C, by the hotdog stand" or smoke.energetic.harmony.

Yes it relies on an app, I can't easily look at my paper map and give you a what3words address. But with the right tooling (there is an API), you can have things like your standard security grunt's radio just show on the screen the current location as a what3words address.

It's a 10MB data set, plus an algorithm It fits in all but the most basic of phones. You could even implement it on an Arduino if you manage your memory well...

J
Title: Re: what 3 words
Post by: quixoticgeek on March 27, 2019, 01:28:24 pm
I hope I'm not the only one, but I just don't understand it. Looked at my own address, and it said: 'bollocks, knob, cheese'.

Well the word list is filtered to remove profanity, so that seems unlikely. That said, you're probably not the target market for this sort of system. You probably have a valid address, with a postcode.

Yes, it is a proprietary system. So you have to use their website or their app. Seems like a bad idea to rely on it for any business or government use.
But it seems they are doing a good job of marketing and getting publicity anyway.

This is more fun. http://www.what3fucks.com/
Or a more polite option. http://what3ducks.com/
Or https://what3emojis.com/
Or http://www.what3ikea.com/

Yes, there are various spoof versions, and the proprietary nature of it is perhaps a concern. Maybe one day someone with a fuckton of money will buy the project and open source it...

J
Title: Re: what 3 words
Post by: fuaran on March 27, 2019, 01:34:09 pm
Yes, that too. I remember reading an article about how it was used to get more nomads to vote.
They are experts of marketing. Probably another round of venture capital due soon.

What3words is not an address, it is just a way of encoding coordinates. Yes, they have an API, but you have to sign up and agree with their terms and conditions to use. And what if they decide to stop providing it in the future. Or start charging loads of money for it (see Google Maps).

Plus codes are a much better option. https://plus.codes/
It is all free and open source, and already integrated into Google Maps, and OsmAnd.
Title: Re: what 3 words
Post by: Greenbank on March 27, 2019, 01:41:43 pm
Having an address opens up all sorts of things for people. Having an efficient address even more so. Here in .NL, you could write my name on an envelope, with "1066EA 1, Netherlands" and it will get to me (that's not my home address). In the UK "Name, 10 CT2 7NT, UK"  Is enough for an address. All that other stuff we put on an envelope is redundant cruft. The postcode + house number is all you need. Unfortunately this isn't the case of all countries. In Belgium 1200 is the postcode of all of Antwerp. Germany and France's post code system is similarly stupid.

Is there an optional (and less well known) extra set of numbers that can be added to the "Belgium 1200" to get some greater resolution than just Antwerp?

I wonder because the US has rather broad 5 digit zip codes but then it has an optional 4 digits that often brings it down to an individual street. Much like the UK system where "CT2" is a reasonably sized area but "CT2 7NT" should be enough that an additional building number/name and/or flat/appt nos should make it unique.
Title: Re: what 3 words
Post by: Kim on March 27, 2019, 01:42:30 pm
It's basically a rehash of the national grid thats been in use in various forms since the 1930s...
Except unlike the grid it won't work if you don't have a working GPS locater handy...

No. Not really.

National grid only really covers the UK, and it's complex and hard for many people to communicate. Small errors in transcription can cause massive errors in where you end up. Especially if read over a poor phone line.

"Where are you?"
"TEE ARE 123456"
"Ok, See you at PEE ARE 123456"
"No, TEE ARE"
"Eh"
"TANGO ROMEO"
"AAAH"

That can be worked around, as you demonstrate, but the main problem with coordinate-based systems (which at this point includes what3words) is that there are so many to chose from, and nobody (even people who really ought to know better, like emergency services operators covering rural areas[1]) seems to understand any of them.


Quote
Where as with What3Words, it's just "Purple.Monkey.Dishwasher" And because of the algorithm, Purple.Monkey.Pirate, is going to be thousands of kilometers away so you can easily check you're in the right ball park.

But the real development of what3words comes from the fact that the whole data structure fits in 10MB of disk/memory. And it works world wide.

Yes, this is brilliant.  I baulk at it being proprietary, but that hasn't stopped the widespread adoption of far less useful technologies before.  Postcodes are also proprietary and only really suitable for sorting mail, but that hasn't stopped them becoming the de-facto standard for quoting physical locations.

I'm not sure if it's actually less prone to transcription errors (I'm thinking particularly in terms of speech-to-text interfaces, but also applies to humans):  While postcodes or coordinates can be spoken phonetically, arbitrary words are more hassle to spell out if they aren't recognised.  Being thousands of miles away is a useful check, if the person or device on the receiving end has enough context to make use of that information.  Your car might have the sense to query a destination that's across a body of water or several days drive away, but do ParcelFarce?

On the other hand, it's pretty much immune to dyslexia-style human errors (character substitution etc).  Though I suppose you might get stuck if you don't know how to spell 'monkey' (perhaps because it's called something else in your roman-alphabet-using language).



[1] I had a fraught conversation with a 999 operator from the scene of a bike-vs-bike accident requiring an ambulance on a rural road.  They couldn't cope with "On $B-road, about half a k east of the junction with $A-road", or map coordinates in either OS grid or WGS84.  No, what they really wanted was a postcode.  What I ended up doing was walking down the road and discovering the name of the nearby farm.
Title: Re: what 3 words
Post by: Riggers on March 27, 2019, 01:43:53 pm
I hope I'm not the only one, but I just don't understand it. Looked at my own address, and it said: 'bollocks, knob, cheese'.

Well the word list is filtered to remove profanity, so that seems unlikely. That said, you're probably not the target market for this sort of system. You probably have a valid address, with a postcode.

Yes, it is a proprietary system. So you have to use their website or their app. Seems like a bad idea to rely on it for any business or government use.
But it seems they are doing a good job of marketing and getting publicity anyway.

This is more fun. http://www.what3fucks.com/
Or a more polite option. http://what3ducks.com/
Or https://what3emojis.com/
Or http://www.what3ikea.com/

Yes, there are various spoof versions, and the proprietary nature of it is perhaps a concern. Maybe one day someone with a fuckton of money will buy the project and open source it...

J

I'm joshing with you Quixers. No worries. It was really like I suggested.
Title: Re: what 3 words
Post by: grams on March 27, 2019, 01:50:37 pm
If you don't believe me, meet me at thinker.managed.groom, we can discuss it over a pint. It really is a great project.

I was keen on the idea up until this point, but then I misheard you and wrote down thinker.manage.groom (https://map.what3words.com/thinker.manage.groom), which is also a valid address. The site doesn't offer any assistance in figuring out what you meant. This seems quite a massive flaw.
Title: Re: what 3 words
Post by: FifeingEejit on March 27, 2019, 01:52:16 pm
It's basically a rehash of the national grid thats been in use in various forms since the 1930s...
Except unlike the grid it won't work if you don't have a working GPS locater handy...

No. Not really.


So it's not drawing a grid over a representation of the world and allocating an identifier to each line of that grid?
Of course it is.
It's the same concept, scaled up and with a number of the issues (that you highlighted) tidied up, however I'd like to see a usable version of what.three.words in a non-computer based representation that can fit in your pocket and still be readable.

The ROI invented a postal grid system due to their lack of postcodes outwith Dublin but critically as with the UKs post code system it's not a geolocator it's designed for sorting mail.
DD says Dundee, so any mail for that is automatcally bagged for Edinburgh or kept locally if it's a dundee office; the number is then used to identify where in that area it's to go and thereofre which delivery office; the last bit cuts it down to the area (not necessarily at road level); in more remote areas there could be 4 or 5 house 1's although they tend to be named instead.

What.Three.Words lands my office in 3 different squares, and each one it shares with other offices.
Title: Re: what 3 words
Post by: Cudzoziemiec on March 27, 2019, 02:06:35 pm
They said when it was launched that one of the main uses they foresaw was for deliveries and service provision (electricity etc) in non-addressed places, such as slums, informal constructions and new developments. I'm not sure it necessarily ties in with government uses.

Yes, that too. I remember reading an article about how it was used to get more nomads to vote.

In what way?

I can envisage it being used to produce temporary voting cards along the lines of:
Name: Naomi Nomad
DOB: 9/8/76
Address: grassy.green.plains

Or to tell the nomads to go to government.paper.centre next Sunday, but that would require them to have the app.

Or simply to find the nomads in the first place, perhaps to take a mobile voting booth to their last known location. The obvious problem with this being that by their nature, the nomads might no longer be there.
Title: Re: what 3 words
Post by: Jaded on March 27, 2019, 02:09:37 pm
If you don't believe me, meet me at thinker.managed.groom, we can discuss it over a pint. It really is a great project.

I was keen on the idea up until this point, but then I misheard you and wrote down thinker.manage.groom (https://map.what3words.com/thinker.manage.groom), which is also a valid address. The site doesn't offer any assistance in figuring out what you meant. This seems quite a massive flaw.

I thought that too, but the two 'addresses' that are similar to mine occur elsewhere in the world.
Title: Re: what 3 words
Post by: quixoticgeek on March 27, 2019, 02:12:56 pm
If you don't believe me, meet me at thinker.managed.groom, we can discuss it over a pint. It really is a great project.

I was keen on the idea up until this point, but then I misheard you and wrote down thinker.manage.groom (https://map.what3words.com/thinker.manage.groom), which is also a valid address. The site doesn't offer any assistance in figuring out what you meant. This seems quite a massive flaw.

Well this nicely illustrates the way it provides some error checking.

I type thinker.manage.groom into the app, and it comes up with three results:

thinker.manage.groom
9223km away , near Santa Tomas Atzingo, Mexico
thinker.managed.groom
4km away, near Amsterdam, North Holland
thinkers.manage.groom
10414km away near Port Area, Metro Manilla.

So I'm either inviting you for a pint 4km down the road, or in Mexico, or Manilla. Which seems more likely?

See it works...

J
Title: Re: what 3 words
Post by: Cudzoziemiec on March 27, 2019, 02:16:04 pm
Having an address opens up all sorts of things for people. Having an efficient address even more so. Here in .NL, you could write my name on an envelope, with "1066EA 1, Netherlands" and it will get to me (that's not my home address).
Of course it's not. We all know you live at "The flat opposite the stupidly placed lamppost", remember?  ;)

Quote
In the UK "Name, 10 CT2 7NT, UK"  Is enough for an address. All that other stuff we put on an envelope is redundant cruft. The postcode + house number is all you need. Unfortunately this isn't the case of all countries. In Belgium 1200 is the postcode of all of Antwerp. Germany and France's post code system is similarly stupid.
It's said that if you're the right sort of Englishman, your address will be three lines:
Quixote,
Geek House,
Bikeshire.

No need for a post code. But only for the right sort of Englishman.

And in some places it varies from city to country. ISTR that in Poland, in the city we had a full post code identifying us down to individual street level or closer, whereas in the village the post code simply identified the post town. And there weren't even street names; there are house numbers but they relate to the whole village, so Pigtrough 123 (that's a genuine village name  :D, although not one I lived in) could be on any street in that village. And most people don't bother to put up numbers anyway. Nevertheless, the post service works fine. Van-type deliveries less so.
Title: Re: what 3 words
Post by: grams on March 27, 2019, 02:22:09 pm
thinker.manage.groom
9223km away , near Santa Tomas Atzingo, Mexico
thinker.managed.groom
4km away, near Amsterdam, North Holland
thinkers.manage.groom
10414km away near Port Area, Metro Manilla.

The website offers me the first and third plus "manager" in Brazil, but nothing in Holland and no way to view more suggestions.

(although it is nice that they offer suggestions at all, which I'd missed)
Title: Re: what 3 words
Post by: postrestant on March 27, 2019, 02:24:53 pm
They said when it was launched that one of the main uses they foresaw was for deliveries and service provision (electricity etc) in non-addressed places, such as slums, informal constructions and new developments. I'm not sure it necessarily ties in with government uses.

Yes, that too. I remember reading an article about how it was used to get more nomads to vote.

Having an address opens up all sorts of things for people. Having an efficient address even more so. Here in .NL, you could write my name on an envelope, with "1066EA 1, Netherlands" and it will get to me (that's not my home address). In the UK "Name, 10 CT2 7NT, UK"  Is enough for an address. All that other stuff we put on an envelope is redundant cruft. The postcode + house number is all you need. Unfortunately this isn't the case of all countries. In Belgium 1200 is the postcode of all of Antwerp. Germany and France's post code system is similarly stupid.

Being able to use liability.ramming.chips or influence.eyeliner.nozzles as an address is amazingly efficient. Having a system for 57 TRILLION locations that fits in just 10MB, is a real achievement.

We've had other systems for global location, but they are all clunky as hell. WGS84 Lat/Long is in theory useful, but you then have 3 ways of writing it dd.dddddE, dd.dddddN, dd°mm'ssE dd°mm'ss'N dd°mm.mmmm E, dd°mm.mmmmm, and when it comes to route planning between them, it's kinda clunky as you're doing base 60 maths, and it's a pain due to circles. This is why UTM was invented. With UTM, the base unit is a meter, and you can use basic Pythagoras and trig to calculate the location between two points. But it's a compromise, and esp at the edge of each zone, things can get blurry. I had a custom printed map of an area of Norway made, and they printed a valid UTM grid over it, but it wasn't the ideal UTM grid, meaning that had I used that map to read off coordinates, I would have got a position upto 3-4km away. In an emergency that would be enough to send the SAR team to the wrong place. Positioning systems are hard. *REALLY* hard.

What3words is something that can be used and understood by average people who just want to be able to say their Yurt is at impartially.lists.scrambled.

It's also been used by things like the superbowl, and festivals. You've got some drunks in a stadium, how do you radio the location in? "Um, bottom end of corridor C, by the hotdog stand" or smoke.energetic.harmony.

Yes it relies on an app, I can't easily look at my paper map and give you a what3words address. But with the right tooling (there is an API), you can have things like your standard security grunt's radio just show on the screen the current location as a what3words address.

It's a 10MB data set, plus an algorithm It fits in all but the most basic of phones. You could even implement it on an Arduino if you manage your memory well...

J

Really helpful post, thanks. But 'All that other stuff we put on an envelope is redundant cruft' doesn't seem fair, to me.  All that other stuff builds in redundancy, it's not redundant.  And 'analogue' addresses are themselves more resistant to damage / marking. 
Title: Re: what 3 words
Post by: mrcharly-YHT on March 27, 2019, 02:36:30 pm
I have two objections to what.3.words:

One) it is proprietary, private enterprise
Two) resolving information from an address is utterly reliant on a working app

The second is the more fundamental flaw. Given a postcode and local knowledge, you can get close to a location. Given lat/long, you can work out (in your head) roughly where that is. With a bit of knowledge, you can probably work out the distance from current location. The same applies to multiple other grid systems.
Title: Re: what 3 words
Post by: quixoticgeek on March 27, 2019, 02:40:45 pm

Really helpful post, thanks. But 'All that other stuff we put on an envelope is redundant cruft' doesn't seem fair, to me.  All that other stuff builds in redundancy, it's not redundant.  And 'analogue' addresses are themselves more resistant to damage / marking.

Your very statement reinforces that it's redundant. Yes it helps to have it, but you don't need it, if the address label isn't damaged, then it is enough to deliver a letter. Sure it's helpful to also have the road name and the borough and the city and the county, but it's not necessary. Redundancy isn't bad,

J
Title: Re: what 3 words
Post by: frankly frankie on March 27, 2019, 04:30:37 pm
I think it would make more sense (to me) if one of the three words was replaced by a 4-char country/county code.  That would give some indication of global location that is human-readable without really compromising the concept very much.

I don't have as much faith as some in the present UK postcode system - it probably seems a very decent locator in metropolitan areas but there are one or two remoter areas, even in England, where a single postcode covers several (linear) miles.  As a geographical locator, it's not good enough.  And I'm someone who thinks that people who don't use a house number, preferring "Bide-a-wee" or "Crow's Nest", deserve all the mis-directed Amazon parcels they never get.

But really a Gpoint (latitude and longitude in degrees and decimals), seems the best format to me.  You can use whatever degree of resolution seems best for purpose - 3 decimals for example is approximately similar to a postcode - 2 decimals gives an approximately 1km grid that could be painted as boundaries on road surfaces, etc, for people like me that drive around without satnav - 5 decimals will locate a house entrance.
Title: Re: what 3 words
Post by: Cudzoziemiec on March 27, 2019, 04:57:06 pm
I agree on postcodes. They are good for delivering post to permanent buildings, they are not geographical locators. I'm not sure about lat and long in degrees and decimals. To locate a house you'd need, according to what you say, 14 digits, and most human's brains aren't good at remembering such long strings. We're far better at remembering words, even without context. Though of course we first have to recognize them as words, meaning a system like What3Words needs to translated in thousands of languages to have truly global application. For some purposes, lat and long will be better.
Title: Re: what 3 words
Post by: FifeingEejit on March 27, 2019, 05:06:49 pm
  As a geographical locator, it's not good enough.  And I'm someone who thinks that people who don't use a house number, preferring "Bide-a-wee" or "Crow's Nest", deserve all the mis-directed Amazon parcels they never get.


House numbers in many places aren't really suitable
A mate's old house was along the lines of "The old thing", "New Farm", "That village", "Nearest big village", "Nearest Post Town"
The post code covered all of "That village" but the village was spread out along a main road and mostly just a collection of farms branched off of it, house numbering looses it's advantages when you've not got a linear line of houses along a road but sets of the splatted all over the place.

But then the post office (who produced the system for their purposes) would have sorted all of the mail for That Village into a bag and given it to the postie that drove the route that goes there every day.

The building my office is in is off the road it's addressed on, on a "private" road, the post office and other delivery companies have no problem working out where we are and even differentiating between the two buildings operated by the health service on it from the sports center, but it's quite amusing to watch food delivery riders/drivers fail to find us because far too much trust has been put into Postcodes by their "employers".

Part of the problem is the Post Office have decided we should have a different post code from the houses on the road, and therefore we have the same post code as the old sweet factory slightly further north. It's particularly bad with Deliveroo as it means we have to wait for the rider to cross a main road before we can contact them tell them they've gone wrong... oh and we're at the top of a climb that goes up over 100.

This is where what.three.words and/or the national grid come in handy because they designed as geographical locator's rather than mail sorters.
Title: Re: what 3 words
Post by: Kim on March 27, 2019, 05:26:24 pm
In the UK "Name, 10 CT2 7NT, UK"  Is enough for an address. All that other stuff we put on an envelope is redundant cruft. The postcode + house number is all you need. Unfortunately this isn't the case of all countries. In Belgium 1200 is the postcode of all of Antwerp. Germany and France's post code system is similarly stupid.

It's said that if you're the right sort of Englishman, your address will be three lines:
Quixote,
Geek House,
Bikeshire.

No need for a post code. But only for the right sort of Englishman.

Also works for the wrong sort of Englishman:  I once sent a postcard to "$person_name, Shite Bunker, Bristol".  Took a little longer than normal, but it got there just fine.


All that other stuff we put on an envelope is redundant cruft.

Nahh, it's the Victorian equivalent of a checksum; clues for the moderately intelligent postie, or the dead letter office.
Title: Re: what 3 words
Post by: Kim on March 27, 2019, 05:36:45 pm
I have two objections to what.3.words:

One) it is proprietary, private enterprise
Two) resolving information from an address is utterly reliant on a working app

The second is the more fundamental flaw. Given a postcode and local knowledge, you can get close to a location.

For values of "local knowledge" that are suspiciously similar to a GIS lookup.

Sure, locals come to memorise codes that are familiar to them.  I know where an NW1 postcode's going to be, in the same way that I know where an +44121471xxxx telephone number, or a 137.222.0.0/16 IPv4 address is going to be.  But that doesn't make any of those codes particularly suited to meaning things to locals.

Of course, the what3words approach deliberately throws adjacency away in the interests of error-checking.  That's a double-edged sword, and whether it's a good idea depends on whether you value accuracy at the mindless data entry stage over failing gracefully the wandering-around-looking-for-things-on-the-ground stage.  There's no right answer.
Title: Re: what 3 words
Post by: Cudzoziemiec on March 27, 2019, 06:31:56 pm
Also works for the wrong sort of Englishman:  I once sent a postcard to "$person_name, Shite Bunker, Bristol".  Took a little longer than normal, but it got there just fine.
:D :D :D
Title: Re: what 3 words
Post by: Cudzoziemiec on March 27, 2019, 06:39:52 pm
The posts above, Fifeing Eejit and Kim, do show that a post code system designed for sorting and then delivery by people who are detailedly familiar with a limited area (our postman told me he's supposed to know the surnames of people on his round, for instance), has different needs than one for delivery or location with less or no sorting over a wider area by people who are not necessarily familiar with the area. A post code is pretty useless for finding a nomad's yurt in Mongolia but what3words or lat/long would both be pretty bad for urban posties. 
Title: Re: what 3 words
Post by: Greenbank on March 28, 2019, 02:18:36 pm
What's wrong with what 3 words:-

https://shkspr.mobi/blog/2019/03/why-bother-with-what-three-words/
Title: Re: what 3 words
Post by: Kim on March 28, 2019, 02:25:32 pm
I hadn't considered the tectonics problem.  That's a pretty strong argument for not using hashed coordinates (in any form) as an address.
Title: Re: what 3 words
Post by: Cudzoziemiec on March 28, 2019, 02:47:29 pm
It's more a one-off location for an ambulance, deliveroo, drug deal, etc than an address.
Title: Re: what 3 words
Post by: Feanor on March 28, 2019, 03:37:02 pm
But is it a useful one?

If I witness something and need to report it to the emergency services, how do I determine 3 words using the tools at my disposal: my eyes, perhaps a small amount of local knowledge, and a GPS?

Title: Re: what 3 words
Post by: Cudzoziemiec on March 28, 2019, 04:19:17 pm
If you have a GPS clearly you can use that. Hopefully the emergency services would understand whatever format your GPS gave. Deliveroo might be stretching it a bit.
Title: Re: what 3 words
Post by: fuaran on March 28, 2019, 04:21:08 pm
For sharing your location for an ambulance or Deliveroo etc, why do you need to manually speak or send the coordinates? Why can't you do this all in an app?
The app can use the GPS in your phone to get the location, and send the coordinates automatically. The app will probably use latitude/longitude, but this doesn't matter, as it isn't visible to the user anyway.

Mountain rescue teams are already doing this - look up SARLOC. Basically they text a link to a webpage, then your phone browser will share the location. And it can automatically convert it to a grid reference, or display your location in the mountain rescue teams mapping software.
https://www.ukclimbing.com/articles/skills/using_sarloc_for_rescue_on_your_smartphone-10917
Title: Re: what 3 words
Post by: Greenbank on March 28, 2019, 05:15:17 pm
Indeed, from the link above:-

Quote
Here's the thing... If the person's phone has a data connection - the web page can just send the geolocation directly back to the emergency services! No need to get a human to read it out, then another human to listen and type it in to a different system.

There is literally no need for W3W in this scenario. If you have a data connection, you can send your precise location without an intermediary.
Title: Re: what 3 words
Post by: Kim on March 28, 2019, 05:15:28 pm
If you have a GPS clearly you can use that. Hopefully the emergency services would understand whatever format your GPS gave.

I refer you to my footnote above, where I was happy to read them precise coordinates in any of the formats my Garmin could generate, but no luck:

I had a fraught conversation with a 999 operator from the scene of a bike-vs-bike accident requiring an ambulance on a rural road.  They couldn't cope with "On $B-road, about half a k east of the junction with $A-road", or map coordinates in either OS grid or WGS84.  No, what they really wanted was a postcode.  What I ended up doing was walking down the road and discovering the name of the nearby farm.

The law of sod suggests that the emergency services will at some point be sold a what3words resolving tool, and want GPS locations in that.  Which is as bad as requiring an app.  They should really be able to cope with coordinates provided in standard formats (yes, I know there are so many to choose from, but Ordnance Survey and WGS84 punctuated in the common forms covers most users) using nothing more advanced than a Nokia 3310 and a map.
Title: Re: what 3 words
Post by: Feanor on March 28, 2019, 09:26:01 pm
Why can't you do this all in an app?

That sums up the issue pretty well for me!

That's just all wrong for me.
It has a view of the world where everyone has a smartphone, and a data connection wherever they are.
And a buy-in to a proprietary system.

No thanks.
Title: Re: what 3 words
Post by: Phil W on March 28, 2019, 09:36:23 pm
My wife's car engine died a fortnight ago. Call with RAC and they want a postcode.  Who the hell knows the postcode of where they are unless they are at home?  Even if you have a sat nav do they allow you to bring up the postcode of where you currently are?   They could not cope with near Tesco xxx, just up road Byyy second exit of the roundabout towards town zzz.  Despite the fact typing that into osm or google maps would bring it up in seconds their end.  Which idiot sold them a system they depends on the person needing help knowing a postcode or have a data connected smart phone on them?
Title: Re: what 3 words
Post by: rafletcher on March 28, 2019, 09:48:22 pm
My wife's car engine died a fortnight ago. Call with RAC and they want a postcode.  Who the hell knows the postcode of where they are unless they are at home?  Even if you have a sat nav do they allow you to bring up the postcode of where you currently are?   They could not cope with near Tesco xxx, just up road Byyy second exit of the roundabout towards town zzz.  Despite the fact typing that into osm or google maps would bring it up in seconds their end.  Which idiot sold them a system they depends on the person needing help knowing a postcode or have a data connected smart phone on them?
.

Some 25 years ago I broke down. I knew the road I was on, and could see a road name on a side road opposite. The AA system couldn’t find me. Thankfully the local patrolman could.
Title: Re: what 3 words
Post by: Kim on March 28, 2019, 09:53:00 pm
My wife's car engine died a fortnight ago. Call with RAC and they want a postcode.  Who the hell knows the postcode of where they are unless they are at home?  Even if you have a sat nav do they allow you to bring up the postcode of where you currently are?   They could not cope with near Tesco xxx, just up road Byyy second exit of the roundabout towards town zzz.  Despite the fact typing that into osm or google maps would bring it up in seconds their end.  Which idiot sold them a system they depends on the person needing help knowing a postcode or have a data connected smart phone on them?

You'd think they'd encounter this problem frequently enough that they'd do something about it.  Probably more so than the emergency services operators do, as you pretty much always phone the RAC when away from home, and often from the roadside with no obvious address.

Now I think about it, I recall the last time I called 999, to report a crime in progress in one of the pedestrian areas near the Bullring centre.  They understood "Bullring Centre" and didn't get too hung up on postcodes.  I suspect they passed my description of "the walkway from the main plaza towards Moor Street station, next to $shop" on verbatim to the security bods with Local Knowledge™.  I can imagine that conversation would have been complicated if I'd been somewhere more nondescript.


Anyway, it seems to be that the main problem isn't that people find coordinates awkward to deal with (and tbh I don't think they're really any worse[1] than telephone numbers), it's that they aren't equipped to make use of them in the first place.  On that basis, what3words isn't a solution, it's just an additional layer of the problem.



[1] Apart from lat/long having a semantically important sign bit that's commonly expressed in two different ways.  "Is that -0.5634 degrees east or -0.5634 degrees west?" "I don't know, it just says -0.5634 degrees"
Title: Re: what 3 words
Post by: woollypigs on March 28, 2019, 10:24:46 pm
Every time I have called a road side assistance, I have given the road name or the nearest road name plus a description of where, like : X metres from Y and I can see Z if you come from the south. Sometimes I have been lucky to be next to a shop/company/etc others I have been rather in the middle of nowhere.

And surprisingly shortly thereafter a nice person with tools in the back of a van have rocked up next to me and mended the vehicle I'm in.

I'm sure the person who covers the area I broke down in, have a very good knowledge of said area.
Title: Re: what 3 words
Post by: woollypigs on March 28, 2019, 10:53:25 pm
If in a perfect world with great signal for data and GPS that you could send easy to the emergency services, that would be great.

I like w3w because I know many that would struggle with just reading Lon/Lat digits or the OS map grid even if it was written down.

Where words they could get across easy to someone even if they were in pain because a broken leg for example. Yes a stroke is a different matter.

I have been at both ends of giving directions, from person at the location which is talking someone in or the person who is getting the direction to get to said location.

Classic (many a joke too) you go past the old church that burned down and is now the fire station across from where Bob used to live etc. I don't need to know that there once where a church, all I need to know is where in turn left.

As a person who take note of, if I'm coming from the south, when the last hill was or right turn was. It is a bit easier to give directions to others. But many a people don't pay attention so they cant tell - go left at the red barn, 2 miles later you see some trees to the right etc

Heck my big brother can get lost in a phone box with a map in his hands. Getting direction from him is a nightmare.
Title: Re: what 3 words
Post by: perpetual dan on March 29, 2019, 08:38:47 am
This reminded me of a proposal i once saw to use IP6 multicast as a scalable granularity 3D addressing system. (Late 90s mobicom i expect.) Indeed, assuming a working device and data connection makes machine to machine sensible for coordinates, as noted above.

Though GPS on my phone is broken at the moment (crappy antenna connections) and I've spent half of the last 10 minutes without a data connection. Personally i think relative location, reliability and openness are too useful in too many cases to ignore.

Sent from my LG-H850 using Tapatalk

Title: Re: what 3 words
Post by: Greenbank on March 29, 2019, 10:10:46 am
If you have a GPS clearly you can use that. Hopefully the emergency services would understand whatever format your GPS gave.

I refer you to my footnote above, where I was happy to read them precise coordinates in any of the formats my Garmin could generate, but no luck:

I had a fraught conversation with a 999 operator from the scene of a bike-vs-bike accident requiring an ambulance on a rural road.  They couldn't cope with "On $B-road, about half a k east of the junction with $A-road", or map coordinates in either OS grid or WGS84.  No, what they really wanted was a postcode.  What I ended up doing was walking down the road and discovering the name of the nearby farm.

The law of sod suggests that the emergency services will at some point be sold a what3words resolving tool, and want GPS locations in that.  Which is as bad as requiring an app.  They should really be able to cope with coordinates provided in standard formats (yes, I know there are so many to choose from, but Ordnance Survey and WGS84 punctuated in the common forms covers most users) using nothing more advanced than a Nokia 3310 and a map.

Like most things, it depends on the person you end up speaking to.

If they don't know how to interpret OS or WGS84 references then IMHO that shows a massive gap in their training. Even without an hours worth of training of "if it sounds like this, plug it in here and look at the map" it really shouldn't be hard to come up with a simple internal tool that can help interpret whatever is being thrown at them.

No need to end up paying w3w any money (which is what all this PR fluff is building up to) which unnecessarily shifts the burden on to the caller.
Title: Re: what 3 words
Post by: citoyen on March 29, 2019, 12:43:28 pm
If in a perfect world with great signal for data and GPS that you could send easy to the emergency services, that would be great.

If you call the emergency services from a GPS-enabled mobile phone, their system can send your location direct to the ambulance. I discovered this a couple of years ago when a fellow rider calling for assistance for an injured rider in the middle of nowhere on an audax asked if they wanted him to send them the GPS location and they said no need.

It took a while for the ambulance to turn up but that's not because they couldn't find us.
Title: Re: what 3 words
Post by: Greenbank on March 29, 2019, 01:29:02 pm
If in a perfect world with great signal for data and GPS that you could send easy to the emergency services, that would be great.

If you call the emergency services from a GPS-enabled mobile phone, their system can send your location direct to the ambulance. I discovered this a couple of years ago when a fellow rider calling for assistance for an injured rider in the middle of nowhere on an audax asked if they wanted him to send them the GPS location and they said no need.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Advanced_Mobile_Location

Before that the network used to use trilateration based on the relative signal strengths of the nearby cell antennas. Which is why it rarely gave a good fix when out in the sticks as you were rarely in range of more than one antenna.
Title: Re: what 3 words
Post by: Cudzoziemiec on March 29, 2019, 02:27:11 pm
Talk of emergency operator training is missing the point. It's got to be simple for the caller to use in an emergency. Systems that locate mobile phones sound excellent, but I note the Advanced Mobile Location wikipage only talks about Europe. Is there anything comparable in, say, Kenya? Not that that makes a proprietary system necessarily suitable (and anyway, you first need emergency ambulances).

All of which is concentrating on emergency applications to the exclusion of the commercial ones.
Title: Re: what 3 words
Post by: Greenbank on March 29, 2019, 03:11:15 pm
Don't know how much more there is to say that Terence Eden (and others) haven't already said.

w3w is a nice toy idea poorly implemented as a closed shop solution. It has a bunch of positives but these are more than outweighed by the significant negatives.

If technology is available (which it would need to be in order to use w3w) then there are a number of better solutions.
Title: Re: what 3 words
Post by: Kim on March 29, 2019, 03:11:52 pm
Talk of emergency operator training is missing the point. It's got to be simple for the caller to use in an emergency.

Well, in the (first-world) outdoors emergency use-case, the caller wanting to specify a map reference would seem to have a better working knowledge of such things than the operators, which points to a tangentially relevant training issue[1].  There's certainly a strong argument for an end-to-end technological solution for muggles getting into trouble outdoors (I recall a news article recently where someone was trapped in a car in a ditch, and was able determine their location by sending a geotagged InstaTwitFace post, which was converted into something the emergency services could understand by a tech-savvy friend).

Commercial applications are about de-facto standards.  If $shite_courier, UberRoo or the Mega-Global Fruit Corporation of Cupertino, USAnia heavily buy into what3words (or any other coordinate format), it will gain momentum.  Note the way Google Maps has made WGS84 in decimal degrees the de-facto standard for coordinates on the Web (even if end-users rarely interact with them directly).

The people who really benefit from coordinates rather than addresses (ie. anyone surveying things, directing helicopters, maintaining infrastructure in remote places or whatever) are surely already using them, and all what3words really gives them is a system that fails in different ways when you read things out over the phone.  The real advantage is for the intersection of people who need coordinate precision for something, but aren't happy dealing with coordinates - eg. telling couriers that your postal address is on $some_road, but they need to go to the service road at hopscotch.aardvark.umbrella instead.



[1] Either of emergency operators, or of people going hiking naively assuming their map and compass will help them summon help without the aid of a postcode database.
Title: Re: what 3 words
Post by: quixoticgeek on March 29, 2019, 03:23:16 pm
If in a perfect world with great signal for data and GPS that you could send easy to the emergency services, that would be great.

This is why I have an Inreach Explorer+ device. I press the magic button, and hold it for 5 seconds, and a helicopter or other suitable rescue team comes and gets me. Global coverage.

For those talking about RAC et al, there are Hectometer posts every 100m on most big roads, You can then call in and say "M25, near post 12345" Obviously this doesn't work on the B3149 under a tree...

J
Title: Re: what 3 words
Post by: Kim on March 29, 2019, 03:36:12 pm
This is why I have an Inreach Explorer+ device. I press the magic button, and hold it for 5 seconds, and a helicopter or other suitable rescue team comes and gets me. Global coverage.

Presumably there's an operator in a callcentre in USAnia or somewhere who deals with the "have you got a postcode?" rubbish for you.  From a warm office with a decent internet connection.


Quote
For those talking about RAC et al, there are Hectometer posts every 100m on most big roads, You can then call in and say "M25, near post 12345"

I'v always assumed that was the case, in exactly the same way I assumed that 999 operators were able to use OS grid references.  Never tested that theory...
Title: Re: what 3 words
Post by: Phil W on March 29, 2019, 04:23:17 pm
If in a perfect world with great signal for data and GPS that you could send easy to the emergency services, that would be great.

This is why I have an Inreach Explorer+ device. I press the magic button, and hold it for 5 seconds, and a helicopter or other suitable rescue team comes and gets me. Global coverage.

For those talking about RAC et al, there are Hectometer posts every 100m on most big roads, You can then call in and say "M25, near post 12345" Obviously this doesn't work on the B3149 under a tree...

J
More likely a  paramedic on a chopper bike.
Title: Re: what 3 words
Post by: yorkie on March 29, 2019, 05:57:39 pm
I'v always assumed that was the case, in exactly the same way I assumed that 999 operators were able to use OS grid references.  Never tested that theory...

I can't speak for the (former) British Telecom emergency operators, but the former British Rail - now Network Rail - Telecoms network switchboard operators directory system could be searched by OS grid reference - either 10 or 12 digit from memory - as well as by station name, bridge number, overhead electrification gantry number, (quarter) milepost and track-side plug-point number (A box about every 100m with sockets to plug a basic phone in for track-side workers before the days of mobile phones). I'm not sure if it ever included Lat & Long, as this was pre-GPS.

The information returned by the search included a 12 digit OS grid reference for the location, postal address (where appropriate), authorised access route from public roads (for track-side locations), Electrical Control Room in electrified areas (to turn the juice off, if not already done!) and the direct phone numbers for the emergency switchboard for the relevant local police, fire and ambulance services for that exact location, as well as Coastguard and Mountain Rescue if appropriate.

From that, I would *assume* that the emergency services at least are geared up for location information by OS grid reference, even if BT don't have a clue what to do with it, but that is only an assumption and is based on what was happening on the railway 20 years ago, when I was responsible for the staff entering this information for what used to be the Eastern Region of British Rail. This information was worked out manually from OS maps and BR track diagrams, a **very** time consuming activity, although it did have the advantage that I had access to 1:50,000 and 1:25,000 OS maps of the eastern half of the UK north of London. Not that I ever borrowed them for cycle tours and Audaxes, ooh no never!! Ahem!!  ;) ;) :-D :-D
Title: Re: what 3 words
Post by: Cudzoziemiec on March 29, 2019, 06:07:34 pm
I wonder what the global spread of w3w use is? How much is in N. America, W. Europe and other places with well-developed cartographic grids, etc, and how much is like the examples they gave when launched, in barrios, favelas, slums (but not banlieues ;)) and other mapless, address-less places?
Title: Re: what 3 words
Post by: SteveC on March 29, 2019, 06:35:05 pm
W3W was featured on QI recently. They said that some countries have adopted it instead of trying to institute their own post-code system.
To test this out, the programme sent a post card to the British Embassy somewhere like Uzbekistan and it hadn't arrived by the time they recorded the show, although it did arrive in time for the final edit.
I can see why some countries might be persuaded to adopt it, not withstanding all the criticisms up-thread.
Title: Re: what 3 words
Post by: Cudzoziemiec on March 29, 2019, 06:42:08 pm
I can't see it working very well as a post code system, because it identifies 3 meter squares of land (or water) rather than buildings or streets, so any one building can have several w3w identifiers. Unless it's really small.
Title: Re: what 3 words
Post by: quixoticgeek on March 29, 2019, 11:44:40 pm

Presumably there's an operator in a callcentre in USAnia or somewhere who deals with the "have you got a postcode?" rubbish for you.  From a warm office with a decent internet connection.

The message it sends is geotagged with lat/long of the device. I'd hope that SAR services would know how to use a lat/long...

Quote
I'v always assumed that was the case, in exactly the same way I assumed that 999 operators were able to use OS grid references.  Never tested that theory...


Interestingly, I once had an interesting discussion with a couple of pilots from NPAS. They had their air navigation charts, and were drawing on the top the London A to Z pages, as the bobbies on the beat understand the London A to Z, and not much else...

More likely a  paramedic on a chopper bike.

Very UK centric view...

J
Title: Re: what 3 words
Post by: Phil W on March 30, 2019, 08:48:12 am
Not at all lots of countries employ paramedics on bikes in big cities. It is the most sensible approach. I think you overestimate how many accidents (outside of the mountains) are attended by helicopter.  Inreach doesn't give you priority access to helicopters. All they do is ring your local emergency services with your location and possibly no further info. They will then decide the best option based on location and what they know.
Title: Re: what 3 words
Post by: quixoticgeek on March 30, 2019, 05:44:41 pm
Not at all lots of countries employ paramedics on bikes in big cities. It is the most sensible approach.

Wasn't questioning the bike, was questioning the chopper bike. I've seen the bikes LAS and others use, they are impressively setup pieces of kit.

Quote
I think you overestimate how many accidents (outside of the mountains) are attended by helicopter.  Inreach doesn't give you priority access to helicopters. All they do is ring your local emergency services with your location and possibly no further info. They will then decide the best option based on location and what they know.

I must admit I did get the device primarily for hills/mountains. Hence having that mind set.

J
Title: Re: what 3 words
Post by: Phil W on March 30, 2019, 06:34:03 pm
Not at all lots of countries employ paramedics on bikes in big cities. It is the most sensible approach.

Wasn't questioning the bike, was questioning the chopper bike. I've seen the bikes LAS and others use, they are impressively setup pieces of kit.

Quote
I think you overestimate how many accidents (outside of the mountains) are attended by helicopter.  Inreach doesn't give you priority access to helicopters. All they do is ring your local emergency services with your location and possibly no further info. They will then decide the best option based on location and what they know.

I must admit I did get the device primarily for hills/mountains. Hence having that mind set.

J

The chopper reference was a play on (another name for) your helicopter.  An Americanism if anything. ;D
Title: Re: what 3 words
Post by: grams on October 11, 2019, 08:57:24 pm
It's been cracked. Hooray!

https://whatfreewords.org/about.html
Title: Re: what 3 words
Post by: fuaran on October 11, 2019, 10:00:54 pm
I think the algorithm is fairly simple. Its just a question of copyright and patents etc. Will anyone publishing or using that code and word list get sued by What3words?
Someone had previously put a version up on Github, that soon got removed with a DMCA takedown notice.
Title: Re: what 3 words
Post by: Tim Hall on November 28, 2019, 07:43:08 am
Poking around on the intarwebs, trying to find a location from a postcode, I stumbled across checkmypostcode.uk which lists various open source location methods. This one caught my eye:

Quote
[What3Birds. This doesn't really exist. It's a parody of the commercial What3Words system, which isn't suitable for this website as it doesn't have a published, open source algorithm. It does, though, work - every postcode on this website has a unique, three bird code. The list of birds was taken (in simplified form) from the British Ornithologists' Union's official list of birds recorded in Britain.
Heh.
Title: Re: what 3 words
Post by: mrcharly-YHT on November 28, 2019, 08:37:12 am
Poking around on the intarwebs, trying to find a location from a postcode, I stumbled across checkmypostcode.uk which lists various open source location methods. This one caught my eye:

Quote
[What3Birds. This doesn't really exist. It's a parody of the commercial What3Words system, which isn't suitable for this website as it doesn't have a published, open source algorithm. It does, though, work - every postcode on this website has a unique, three bird code. The list of birds was taken (in simplified form) from the British Ornithologists' Union's official list of birds recorded in Britain.
Heh.
Does that system allow you to tweet your location?
Title: Re: what 3 words
Post by: Cudzoziemiec on November 28, 2019, 08:57:51 am
Poking around on the intarwebs, trying to find a location from a postcode, I stumbled across checkmypostcode.uk which lists various open source location methods. This one caught my eye:

Quote
[What3Birds. This doesn't really exist. It's a parody of the commercial What3Words system, which isn't suitable for this website as it doesn't have a published, open source algorithm. It does, though, work - every postcode on this website has a unique, three bird code. The list of birds was taken (in simplified form) from the British Ornithologists' Union's official list of birds recorded in Britain.
Heh.
Does that system allow you to tweet your location?
:hand: ;D :D :D ;D
Title: Re: what 3 words
Post by: Pedal Castro on November 28, 2019, 09:55:25 am
http://www.what3fucks.com (http://www.what3fucks.com)
Title: Re: what 3 words
Post by: FifeingEejit on November 28, 2019, 10:41:55 am
I think you overestimate how many accidents (outside of the mountains) are attended by helicopter. 

The SAS's 2 helicopters (Glasgow and Inverness) and the SCAA one (Perth) are pretty much the default ambulance options for a fair whack of the Scottish road network.
They're busy enough that the SCAA are raising funds to get a second helicopter going.

But that's largely down to the economic-geographic constraints of a long tall land mass with long distances between major population centers that can support a fully staffed A&E service and highly dispersed population outwith them.
Title: Re: what 3 words
Post by: StuChina on November 29, 2019, 08:35:22 pm
https://www.ordnancesurvey.co.uk/shop/os-locate/

Use it all the time in Western Highlands long distance walking trails not sure what is difficult about reading lat and long co-ordinates

(https://photos.smugmug.com/My-First-Gallery/i-tB4NnCL/0/6cd7975a/X2/IMG_2425-X2.png) (https://lunnstuart.smugmug.com/My-First-Gallery/i-tB4NnCL/A)
Title: Re: what 3 words
Post by: bludger on November 29, 2019, 09:09:02 pm
http://www.what3fucks.com (http://www.what3fucks.com)

I'm going to run an audax that incorporates this somehow.
Title: Re: what 3 words
Post by: quixoticgeek on November 29, 2019, 11:10:41 pm
http://www.what3fucks.com (http://www.what3fucks.com)

I'm going to run an audax that incorporates this somehow.

Well I've just discovered that Den Haag is in "Trollop sodding assbanger"...

J
Title: Re: what 3 words
Post by: Davef on November 30, 2019, 11:28:59 am
I read earlier in the thread that the database takes 10mb. Seems very large. You need a list of about 40,000 English words. Then a method of converting a 3 digit base 40000 number to a lon,lat with 3m resolution in such a way that ‘similar’ numbers map to very differ the coords. I would have though a few tens of kilobytes would be all you would need to store the list of words. I suppose if you want to make the mapping obscure to protect your idea then a bigger database would be needed.


Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
Title: Re: what 3 words
Post by: Phil W on November 30, 2019, 11:42:56 am
Storage is cheap and 10Mb is neither here nor there in the days of 128Gb SD cards. Some things are worth optimising for space, some for speed.  Data of 10Mb isn't worth the time to optimise in this day and age.  Different to the 80's when I first became a professional programmer and had to optimise for programs and their data to fit into 32kB; least you wanted to invoke the joy of dynamic loading and memory swapping

Mind I'm not sure where this DB sits as I believe the translation between Lat, lon and the three words take place on their servers. So the app doesn't really need a copy.
Title: Re: what 3 words
Post by: Greenbank on November 30, 2019, 11:58:30 am
I would have though a few tens of kilobytes would be all you would need to store the list of words.

I went back to look at https://whatfreewords.org/about.html to see how many words were in use and it's gone. Lawyers I presume.

But if we take 40,000 words as a given:-

40,000 words * average 6 letters per word = 240,000 bytes.

Compression of english text (with no words repeated) is going to be hard to get better than 50% so you're going to have 120,000 bytes minimum for storage of the words. That's way more than "a few tens of kilobytes" but still way less than 10MB.

If they ship one database with multiple languages then I can see how they can get to 10MB for the database.

Mind I'm not sure where this DB sits as I believe the translation between Lat, lon and the three words take place on their servers. So the app doesn't really need a copy.

The whole point is that the app works where you have no data connection, so the app must have everything it needs to do the conversion.
Title: Re: what 3 words
Post by: Phil W on November 30, 2019, 12:32:10 pm
Ah, I thought the app didn't have the DB as the company was worried about someone reverse engineering the code to get to what is proprietary data. If it requires a data connection it's a lot less useful in remote areas where you can often get a SMS out but nothing more.
Title: Re: what 3 words
Post by: Davef on November 30, 2019, 01:35:46 pm
There are only 26 letters so 1 byte per letter seems a little inefficient, both in terms of storage and search speed. Many letter pairs and triplets are frequent and a sorted listed of words have common stems. I believe it will be a few tens of kB rather than hundreds of kB and not mb. As it is produced as a one off and extra few minutes generating it seems worthwhile.

Storing data efficiently is making a bit of a comeback as datasets are getting huge and also the move to battery powered devices and transmission. Open streetmap for example uses variable bit length integers, so for example you may only use 11 bits to store a particular number and 35 bits for another. Garmin ant+ protocol is very compact because it means the sensor batteries last longer.


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Title: Re: what 3 words
Post by: Kim on November 30, 2019, 01:50:33 pm
Yeah, but if it's not being transmitted, it makes sense to optimise for CPU cycles required to do the lookup, rather than storage space.  A few more megabytes of storage might be a reasonable tradeoff for higher speed and a bit more battery life.
Title: Re: what 3 words
Post by: Davef on November 30, 2019, 03:01:29 pm
If you are looking up a string that is half as many bytes it will be more efficient, even though for 40,000 entries it is only 16 or so comparisons to find an entry so not a lot of saving.


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Title: Re: what 3 words
Post by: Ham on February 12, 2020, 06:54:20 am
https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2020/feb/11/ben-nevis-climbers-extremely-lucky-to-be-rescued

Quote
People see it’s called a tourist path so they think it is an easy walk up.”

Harris said there were winds of up to 100mph and windchill was causing temperatures of -20C at the summit. The group was found on steep ice near the summit, and he said going a few metres further would have posed serious risk. “They were lucky in the sense that where they were had phone signal, if it hadn’t, we wouldn’t have known they were there,” he said.

“They certainly wouldn’t have survived the night.”

The group used the what3words app to pinpoint their location.
Title: Re: what 3 words
Post by: JonBuoy on February 12, 2020, 07:16:30 am
Quote
22 members were involved in the search operation

That 3m square must have been getting pretty full.
Title: Re: what 3 words
Post by: rogerzilla on February 12, 2020, 07:28:46 am
The cracked version has been taken down.  Boo.

Google Maps, which nearly all phones will have, will show your ICBM address with a long press (and no need for an Internet connection), so W3W is completely pointless.
Title: Re: what 3 words
Post by: Jaded on February 12, 2020, 07:34:24 am
It isn’t completely pointless. It’s point is to try and make money for the developers.

Hopefully phone OS manufacturers will develop a system that, with a smile push of a button, or click, (like emergency calling) sends a proper location in a universal format, and puts.the.sword to W3W
Title: Re: what 3 words
Post by: mrcharly-YHT on February 12, 2020, 08:14:10 am
It isn’t completely pointless. It’s point is to try and make money for the developers.

Hopefully phone OS manufacturers will develop a system that, with a smile push of a button, or click, (like emergency calling) sends a proper location in a universal format, and puts.the.sword to W3W
You mean like AML?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Advanced_Mobile_Location (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Advanced_Mobile_Location)
Title: Re: what 3 words
Post by: Davef on February 12, 2020, 08:27:30 am
They were foreign students with broken English. It was pure chance that their description of what happened “affair.enter.skid” identified the 3m square in the frozen gully where they were found.


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Title: Re: what 3 words
Post by: Jaded on February 12, 2020, 09:41:19 am
It isn’t completely pointless. It’s point is to try and make money for the developers.

Hopefully phone OS manufacturers will develop a system that, with a smile push of a button, or click, (like emergency calling) sends a proper location in a universal format, and puts.the.sword to W3W
You mean like AML?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Advanced_Mobile_Location (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Advanced_Mobile_Location)

If that is available from a lock screen, and can be sent semi automatically with one hand, whatever the OS of the phone, yes.
Title: Re: what 3 words
Post by: Davef on February 12, 2020, 09:54:48 am
It isn’t completely pointless. It’s point is to try and make money for the developers.

Hopefully phone OS manufacturers will develop a system that, with a smile push of a button, or click, (like emergency calling) sends a proper location in a universal format, and puts.the.sword to W3W
You mean like AML?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Advanced_Mobile_Location (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Advanced_Mobile_Location)

If that is available from a lock screen, and can be sent semi automatically with one hand, whatever the OS of the phone, yes.
But what if there was no mobile signal as is often the case in the mountains and the one with suitable footwear had to abandon the other three at affair.enter.skid to go in search of rescuers or a mobile signal ?


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Title: Re: what 3 words
Post by: Greenbank on February 12, 2020, 10:03:39 am
How about: read.before.posting

Every time this thread is bumped with a new story (no problem with that) the same things (lack of signal, GPS coordinates can be used anyway, AML, GPS drift due to plate tectonics, everything else brought up by Terence Eden, etc) that have already been discussed get brought up again and again.

But what if there was no mobile signal as is often the case in the mountains and the one with suitable footwear had to abandon the other three at affair.enter.skid to go in search of rescuers or a mobile signal ?

In this scenario remembering three words (assuming you had nothing to write them down on, physically or electronically) might be slightly easier than remembering some GPS co-ordinates to sufficient precision[1] to be useful, but that's a considerable number of 'what ifs' that need to all occur at the same time. Also risky given the possibility of mis-remembering them at the end and the fact that any error results in the co-ordinates being useless.

1. 4 decimal places with ref to https://xkcd.com/2170/
Title: Re: what 3 words
Post by: Davef on February 12, 2020, 10:45:52 am
It worked. The emergency services, mountain rescue in particular seem to like it. It has a lot of redundancy. Just 2 of the words and in the wrong order and the fact you were on Ben Nevis would have worked too. Just one of the words and that you were near the summit. It is annoying that it is proprietary but that does not detract from the idea. It can also be used over radio, a speech interface on the garmin gpsmap64 to save having to take gloves off and it would be even better.


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Title: Re: what 3 words
Post by: fuaran on February 12, 2020, 11:03:42 am
It worked. The emergency services, mountain rescue in particular seem to like it. It has a lot of redundancy.
Some mountain rescue teams like it, others have said it is a terrible idea. Are they being sponsored to promote it?

Quote
Just 2 of the words and in the wrong order and the fact you were on Ben Nevis would have worked too. Just one of the words and that you were near the summit.
How do you figure this out? Do they provide any way of searching for a single part of the code?
There are thousands of possible locations nearby, it will take a while to look up and compare the code for each one. Unless you had access to the API, but What3words might charge for that sort of thing.
Title: Re: what 3 words
Post by: Davef on February 12, 2020, 11:17:18 am
The api is free for use in not for profit, so for example mountain rescue do not have to pay if using it directly themselves. Commercial software being sold to emergency services would indeed have to pay for the use so if mountain rescue was purchasing software with this facility it would be more expensive than if it didn’t.


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Title: Re: what 3 words
Post by: fuaran on February 12, 2020, 11:26:40 am
How do they decide what is "not for profit" and what isn't? And what if they start charging a lot more for the API in the future?
Title: Re: what 3 words
Post by: Davef on February 12, 2020, 11:34:05 am
Ah, then mountain rescue might have to start charging, which would be unfortunate or go back to what12digits.


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Title: Re: what 3 words
Post by: Greenbank on February 12, 2020, 11:37:11 am
Quote
Just 2 of the words and in the wrong order and the fact you were on Ben Nevis would have worked too. Just one of the words and that you were near the summit.
How do you figure this out? Do they provide any way of searching for a single part of the code?
There are thousands of possible locations nearby, it will take a while to look up and compare the code for each one. Unless you had access to the API, but What3words might charge for that sort of thing.

On the website you can move the map around to see what individual squares are called. If you know they are in a certain area (based on description) then searching around for suitable words is possible but it would be a manual task prone to error.

Knowing they are within 200m of a certain point would mean you've got a bit more than 400 3x3m squares to check. One every 2 seconds and that's somewhere around 15 minutes work.
Title: Re: what 3 words
Post by: Kim on February 12, 2020, 11:56:39 am
What 3 Words isn't a solution to unprepared people getting stuck on mountains because, just like everything else, it requires a level of preparedness.
Title: Re: what 3 words
Post by: Polar Bear on February 12, 2020, 12:56:16 pm
I am here (https://maps.app.goo.gl/ZHR949NzoSeWKFUr9)

Title: Re: what 3 words
Post by: Legs on February 12, 2020, 01:03:17 pm
Really?  You must be in one of the nearby offices?  ;)
Title: Re: what 3 words
Post by: Polar Bear on February 12, 2020, 01:33:19 pm
I was waiting for a train.   I'm now in Coventry waiting for a train ...
Title: Re: what 3 words
Post by: rogerzilla on February 17, 2020, 07:17:56 am
I'm now in Coventry
Quick! Call the rescue services!
Title: Re: what 3 words
Post by: Cudzoziemiec on March 26, 2020, 02:50:03 pm
This about the importance of addressing slums and informal settlements makes no mention of what 3 words. Which is not surprising as the importances it addresses do not include parcel delivery.
https://www.theguardian.com/news/2020/mar/26/the-unlisted-how-people-without-an-address-are-stripped-of-their-basic-rights
Title: Re: what 3 words
Post by: citoyen on March 26, 2020, 03:54:34 pm
Winter Wonderland, held in That London's Hyde Park during December, used W3W to help visitors locate the various different gates. I thought that was a pretty good use of the tech.
Title: Re: what 3 words
Post by: quixoticgeek on September 23, 2020, 11:59:38 am

Some of you may find this week's episode of "99% invisible" worth listening to
 It's called "the address book" and it talks about addresses and what they mean and their history. It does me too what 3 words too.

https://99percentinvisible.org/episode/the-address-book/

J