Author Topic: what 3 words  (Read 2057 times)

woollypigs

  • Mr Peli
    • woollypigs
what 3 words
« 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/


FifeingEejit

  • Not Small just Far Away at the back
Re: what 3 words
« Reply #1 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...

Re: what 3 words
« Reply #2 on: March 27, 2019, 12:39:10 pm »
Being 2D, it doesn't identify individual premises in multi-storey buildings.

Feanor

  • It's mostly downhill from here.
Re: what 3 words
« Reply #3 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?

quixoticgeek

  • Mostly Harmless
Re: what 3 words
« Reply #4 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
--
Beer, bikes, and backpacking
http://b.42q.eu/

quixoticgeek

  • Mostly Harmless
Re: what 3 words
« Reply #5 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
--
Beer, bikes, and backpacking
http://b.42q.eu/

Cudzoziemiec

  • Solar powered, tea fuelled cycle-wol
Re: what 3 words
« Reply #6 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.
An ungovernable laughter, a joyous agitation which makes the summer stretching before you seem like an unrolling canvas on which you might draw those first rude pure strokes that are free. (Capote)

Riggers

  • Mine's a pipe, er… pint!
Re: what 3 words
« Reply #7 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'.
Certainly never seen cycling south of Sussex

fuaran

  • rothair gasta
Re: what 3 words
« Reply #8 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/

quixoticgeek

  • Mostly Harmless
Re: what 3 words
« Reply #9 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
--
Beer, bikes, and backpacking
http://b.42q.eu/

quixoticgeek

  • Mostly Harmless
Re: what 3 words
« Reply #10 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
--
Beer, bikes, and backpacking
http://b.42q.eu/

fuaran

  • rothair gasta
Re: what 3 words
« Reply #11 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.

Re: what 3 words
« Reply #12 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.
"Yes please" said Squirrel "biscuits are our favourite things."

Kim

  • 2nd in the world
Re: what 3 words
« Reply #13 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.
To ride the Windcheetah, first, you must embrace the cantilever...

Riggers

  • Mine's a pipe, er… pint!
Re: what 3 words
« Reply #14 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.
Certainly never seen cycling south of Sussex

Re: what 3 words
« Reply #15 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, 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.

FifeingEejit

  • Not Small just Far Away at the back
Re: what 3 words
« Reply #16 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.

Cudzoziemiec

  • Solar powered, tea fuelled cycle-wol
Re: what 3 words
« Reply #17 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.
An ungovernable laughter, a joyous agitation which makes the summer stretching before you seem like an unrolling canvas on which you might draw those first rude pure strokes that are free. (Capote)

Jaded

  • The Codfather
  • Formerly known as Jaded
Re: what 3 words
« Reply #18 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, 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.
If you don't like your democracy, vote against it.

quixoticgeek

  • Mostly Harmless
Re: what 3 words
« Reply #19 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, 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
--
Beer, bikes, and backpacking
http://b.42q.eu/

Cudzoziemiec

  • Solar powered, tea fuelled cycle-wol
Re: what 3 words
« Reply #20 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.
An ungovernable laughter, a joyous agitation which makes the summer stretching before you seem like an unrolling canvas on which you might draw those first rude pure strokes that are free. (Capote)

Re: what 3 words
« Reply #21 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)

Re: what 3 words
« Reply #22 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. 

Re: what 3 words
« Reply #23 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.
<i>Marmite slave</i>

quixoticgeek

  • Mostly Harmless
Re: what 3 words
« Reply #24 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
--
Beer, bikes, and backpacking
http://b.42q.eu/