What 3 words

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DaveAC

Member
Nov 25, 2020
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Has anyone ever used this app? I've got the app on the phone and have used it a few times, mostly for fun and thankfully never in an emergency. This post is as much to make others aware of this feature, it's a phone app that uses 3 words to describe a 3 meter grid reference. It's very easy and a clever way to give your position to other's. Maybe the emergency services or a lover for a sexy meeting, either way it's a handy thing. Sorry if this has already been covered, delete if necessary.
Oh, and happy new year to you all.
Cheers
Dave
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Broch

Full Member
Jan 18, 2009
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Mid Wales
Has anyone ever used this app? I've got the app on the phone and have used it a few times, mostly for fun and thankfully never in an emergency. This post is as much to make others aware of this feature, it's a phone app that uses 3 words to describe a 3 meter grid reference. It's very easy and a clever way to give your position to other's. Maybe the emergency services or a lover for a sexy meeting, either way it's a handy thing. Sorry if this has already been covered, delete if necessary.
Oh, and happy new year to you all.
Cheers
Dave
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We had quite a long discussion on this a little while back - see:

What Three Words | BushcraftUK Community

As well as the discussion there (from which you will gather I'm not a fan) I think the fact you cannot give someone else's position with it is a major limitation. With a grid reference you can tell the emergency services where someone else is.
 

Kepis

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Jul 17, 2005
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We use it in the fishing clubs map book to help people locate some of our more remote fisheries and access points to the rivers.
 

Paul_B

Bushcrafter through and through
Jul 14, 2008
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In the website you can search for Street names and places to get close then move the map around to get to the correct location. It can be used to locate other locations if you know the street nearest to it and can recognise location from the map.

The app I did download and IIRC it's similar in its search function.

OS grid reference only works if you know how to work them out and the recipient can use them. A few years ago know of someone who gave a GR for a location in the lakes on a minor road. He was accurate being a summer ML but the ambulance service could not use it and needed the postcode or Street and house number nearest the location. That's possibly 10+ years back now so I hope it's not the same. Of course this system has the same problem of only working if both ends can use it. I know lakes MRTs occasionally have got people needing help to use it if they can't use grid references or have no maps or GPS. Personally I have no use for it that I can see.
 
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DaveAC

Member
Nov 25, 2020
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53
GB
Thanks, I thought it might have been mentioned, I did a search and nothing. It has its limitations, but how many people other than us, the military and ramblers no how to read a map. I think it's brilliant for the emergency services.
Cheers

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Stew

Bushcrafter through and through
Nov 29, 2003
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We had quite a long discussion on this a little while back - see:

What Three Words | BushcraftUK Community

As well as the discussion there (from which you will gather I'm not a fan) I think the fact you cannot give someone else's position with it is a major limitation. With a grid reference you can tell the emergency services where someone else is.
Why can’t you use w3w to give someone else’s location?
 

Broch

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Jan 18, 2009
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Mid Wales
Why can’t you use w3w to give someone else’s location?

Yep, Paul is right, you can. Just updated my old version and, I have to admit, it is much better than it was. The map isn't as accurate as an OS map for pinpointing where someone is but it may be good enough.

I still don't see how reading ambiguous three words is easier than reading a grid (number) reference (you don't have to understand it, the app gives it to you) but it appears to have popular support.

So, for example, the wind is blowing and my signal is bad - my position is given as 'farmland.ribcage.defectors' (that is my position right now) - sorry, was that 'farmhand.ribcage.detectors'? (which is on the other side of the universe :()
 
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Buckshot

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Jan 19, 2004
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surely thats the case regardless of the app used?
if signal is bad, words can be misheard. numbers would be said as words and could easily mistake someone for being 100 miles away from the true location.
that doesn't make the app bad.
 

Nice65

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Apr 16, 2009
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Thanks, I thought it might have been mentioned, I did a search and nothing. It has its limitations, but how many people other than us, the military and ramblers no how to read a map. I think it's brilliant for the emergency services.
Cheers

Sent from my FIG-LX1 using Tapatalk

You‘re not the only one with search problems. I’ve been here years and find the new software needs a specific way to work, it’s not like you can just type a phrase anymore.

However, it’s very apt you mention What 3 Words in a thread and comment on the search engine :lmao:
 

Broch

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Jan 18, 2009
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surely thats the case regardless of the app used?
if signal is bad, words can be misheard. numbers would be said as words and could easily mistake someone for being 100 miles away from the true location.
that doesn't make the app bad.

No, the reason we don't have a phonetic equivalent for numbers is, because there are only ten of them, they are not normally mis-understood over comms. Words (there are billions of them) are often misunderstood over even good comms (or even spoken over the dining table in my experience :)) which is why we have a phonetic alphabet. In What 3 Words just getting two words right is no better than getting none of them right; there is no relationship between the words or structure to the system.

I see no advantage at all to an unstructured system when the information is given by an ap (i.e. the user does not have to be able to understand or use a map grid system).
 

Broch

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Jan 18, 2009
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Getting off my soap box for a minute :) - the one application I can see for it is to get to a specific address on a street - say for a domestic abuse case or some other type of emergency where the first door you come to needs to be the correct one - a grid reference wouldn't give you that. In those circumstances bad reception and wind noise etc. is less likely to be an issue.
 

Paul_B

Bushcrafter through and through
Jul 14, 2008
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Lancashire
I guess it's just me that gets misheard with words, numbers and letters then. I've had people take down the setting numbers when phoning from a blustery hillside quite a few times before now. Perhaps that's me or simply that blustery hillsides don't make it easy to hear anything at times.

IME mishearing information is inevitable if the conditions are bad enough. That's simply a function of conditions not format of information.

Out of curiosity, how many numbers do you use when giving grid references? 6 equals 100m square, 8 equals 10m X 10m iirc and so on. What 3 words is 3m X 3m square.

I've been less than 10m from a passing here of red deer in the lakes before now and I'm certain that could smell and hear me but they were looking all over the place instead of staring at me like they do when they see you too. I was in a gully run off from a particularly boggy fell and no more obvious to humans neither. I reckon it's possible to find me from either system. After all if I give you three words and they're opposite side of the world it's pretty clear very quickly they've misheard.

The one misuse of the OSGB grid reference system I have seen widely is the forgetting to give the two grid letters. Get those even one letter different and you're instantly 100km out. If you hear SC but I said SD well you've just sent MRT up a hill on the Isle of Man not somewhere not too far from Dumfries or possibly a bit further west in Galloway area.

IMHO no system is foolproof and it's a case of the best system for the people involved. Broch gives me the impression of someone with a lot of navigation skills and experience. Who knows the limitations of location systems. Grid references will be bread and butter stuff for him. However I would wager that he's never needed MRT to find him and help him off the fells.

I've seen some absolute cretins in the hills and tried really hard to help them before now. People talking about going over great end to scafell pike from the Seathwaite side when it's 2pm in winter with snow and ice on the ground and a blizzard predicted in about an hour and half in January. All the while wearing what looked like they were box fresh nikes when they left their cars and just a little more than a tracksuit with obligatory hotel information sheet of walks from their hotel. People like that probably have the what 3 words as their only hope of a fast location.

Horses for courses as they say. If only people had to be certified as competent to be let loose on their own in the hills!!!
 
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Broch

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Jan 18, 2009
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Thought you could.

I must be doing something wrong. I can find no way of getting W3W to show me a map accurate enough to identify the position of someone who away from a road. Even if I use the satellite view I can't get a position on the image to give me three words.

Using conventional mapping I can tell you that I saw a guy matching the description you're looking for an hour ago at Sierra Hotel 68876589 just by looking at a paper map or from the OS maps on my phone. I can find no way of doing that (to anything like the accuracy) using W3W - what am I doing wrong?

Oh, and for some reason the point on the app for my current position is roaming around a 100m x 100m area at the moment - limited presumably by the GPS available.
 

Broch

Full Member
Jan 18, 2009
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Mid Wales
The IMO Phonetic Alphabet does have some entries for numbers. Whether they are strictly 'phonetic' is another matter.

0 Nadazero
1 Unaone
2 Bissotwo
3 Terrathree
4 Kartefour
5 Pantafive
6 Soxisix
7 Setteseven
8 Oktoeight
9 Novenine

Ouch! :)
 

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