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- is the name of a relatively new mobile app that pinpoints any 10' square piece of real estate on the globe. Yup, that's approximately 43 bazillion grid segments (actually 57 trillion +) covering planet Earth. I just finished mapping a 5K, and I am considering adding the names (3 random English words separated by two periods) of the new Start, Finish, and Turn Around locations - maybe mile marks, too - which, when entered into the app, take you to an aerial view of the 10-foot square containing the certified points.

Solocator has been very helpful for me in communicating with RDs and in keeping a check on my measuring locations - thanks, Gary Brumley. Now, what3 words gives us the ability to easily and rapidly communicate any map point within a few feet with a simple three-word identifier. The app saves your locations and provides easy ways to forward the location to anyone who has the app.

I am not aware of all the features yet, but as someone who has had difficulty locating a few cal courses over the years, this would seem to be an answer to the issue of finding cal courses where there is no nearby address to reference. One click on a what3words identifier, and Google Maps Navigation pops up, ready to direct you there.

Does anyone feel as I that adding these identifiers can be useful? Most parks in my region, where many courses are located, strictly forbid applying paint marks or nails. I'll be looking out for other applications as I familiarize myself with this app. I am interested to hear of anyone else's experience with it.


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Hey Lyman, I’ve been using what3words for a little while now and adding it to my maps.  I’m finding that the race directors like it because it is a great aid when setting up a course on dark mornings.  I’ve just been telling race directors to download the app and give them a quick primer on how it works.  Overall, feedback has been very positive.


I use "what3words" as a volunteer in my National Park to locate people or objects in wilderness areas.  I used it with another volunteer to report a tree down on a densely wooded trail. Standing side by side we each had two different sets of "what3 words". We moved around staying close together with the same results - different words.  When we reported the damage to the National Park Command Center we told him of the difference in words.  He said even though the "what3words" covers a 3 square meter area there are often differences between iphone and android phone reportings.  While this is a great tool it can be somewhat inaccurate particularly if the location is marked using an iphone and then searched for using an android phone or visa versa. It will get you to the correct general area but that could be more than 3 square meters.

Interesting, Rob. I just learned of this. Your map is exactly what I had in mind. Very nice. This should be a help for RDs in finding timing points, particularly in those locations where paint and or nails cannot be applied.

Jane, it is difficult for me to grasp what would account for these differences. Getting to the general area is surely helpful, but if the delta is more than a few meters, the usefulness is diminished, isn't it? It sounds as though you are saying we should indicate to our users which mobile technology the grid section in question was identified with so that they get to the intended location.

Thanks for posting about this app, Lyman. Very useful tool with a fascinating backstory. If you're interested check out Chris Sheldrick's TED Talk "A precise, three-word address for every place on earth"

I used this recently the app to help "reverse" locate from a photo where a good friend's ashes were scattered on Mt. Rainier (using W3W, Street View & Google Earth in Terrain mode.) ///duplicates.distinction.exposes

It's a clever idea, but one big downside is that what3words is a private company, and their geocoding scheme is proprietary. That means their 3-word addresses are meaningless unless you are using their app.

They are threatening legal action against a researcher who reverse engineered their geocoding to create an open source version of it.'s%20not%20the%20only%20downside,for%20problems%20or%20security%20vulnerabilities.

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