Addressing the world

7 months ago Comments Off on Addressing the world

LAST year, a brush fire threatened the home of Ganhuyag Chuluun Hutagt, who lives in Mongolia’s capital, Ulaanbaatar. Instead of giving the fire brigade his address, though, Mr Ganhuyag had to guide them to the blaze by describing a series of landmarks along the way. That was because, like most buildings in Mongolia, his house does not have an address. Road names and building numbers are so sparse there that fewer than 1% of Mongolians do. But Mr Ganhuyag, who is on the board of the country’s post office, Mongol Post, proposes to do something about it.

Thanks to his urging, Mongol Post is adopting an ingenious new system of addresses that can locate any place in the country—and, indeed, in the world. Instead of house number, street name, town, province and so on, or the unwieldy co-ordinates of latitude and longitude, this system, the brainchild of Chris Sheldrick, boss of What3Words, a firm based in London, divides the Earth’s surface into nine-metre-square blocks. Each block is then given names consisting of trios of randomly selected, unrelated words. One patch of Siberia, for example, is called, in English,…Continue reading
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