Third country adopts what3words as addressing system

January 21, 2017  - By
Image: GPS World

Caribbean Island Sint Maarten has become the third country in the world, and the first in the region, to adopt what3words for its national postal system.

With a population of more than 40,000 people, Sint Maarten is a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. As with many of the Caribbean islands, much of Sint Maarten has no official addressing. As a result, the postal service persistently experiences high rates of failed deliveries. The renumbering of houses over past decades has left many homes with multiple addresses, forced different homes to share the same address, or left others with none. As Sint Maarten continues to develop, this patchy system is holding back the growth of ecommerce, tourism and government services.

By using what3words, every location in the country now has an instant address. what3words provides an accurate and fixed address for every 3-x-3-meter square in the world.

As a first step, PSSNV is accepting three-word addresses from all customers, extending the service to both commercial partners and private clients. Customers will be able to identify any three-word address using the free what3words app or website and write it on an envelope.

This gives every citizen a reliable address, whether they live on an unmarked road in the center of the island at overlays.campfire.sometime, are over the bank — a particularly poorly addressed quarter — at inkwell.residing.seabirds, or are moored for the night at music.crunchy.electing.

what3words will be integrated across PSSNV’s internal systems, while postal workers will use a three-word address to navigate directly to the 3-x-3-meter square of a customer’s front door.

“PSSNV is proud to be one of the first countries in the world to adopt this new method of addressing,” said Antonia Wilson, Director of Operations and Commerce for Postal Services Sint Maarten. “With what3words, PSSNV can instantly provide universal access to the postal service. This instant solution will immediately make us more efficient and reduce customer frustrations. We’ve already begun training our staff on this new system and will be communicating three-word addresses to customers across the country through our new website, radio and TV advertising, via leaflets and on all existing mail.”

Disaster Relief. what3words is already being used in the Caribbean to support disaster relief. It was used to support Haiti’s recovery in the wake of October’s Hurricane Matthew in a project funded by the Roddenberry Foundation. Following the recovery work in Haiti, disaster response specialists IHS (Infinitum Humanitarian Systems) made what3words its default service for tracking teams and reporting problems back to the United Nation’s WASH Cluster, a water sanitation task force.

“The entire IHS team converted to what3words while we were deployed. It proved very easy to communicate locations of issues while we were on the move,” said Eric Rasmussen, CEO of IHS. “The team was traveling to support an area out west of Jeremie where about 4,000 people were living in the coastal forest. There we rebuilt a water system for a destroyed school and medical clinic at ruminant.stronger.regularity, providing both power and the first clean water in the area since Hurricane Matthew levelled the place.”

Available in 13 languages, including English, French and Spanish, what3words is used by individuals, delivery companies, navigation tools, governments, logistics firms, travel guides and NGOs. It is more precise than traditional addresses, simpler than descriptions, and easier to communicate and remember than long strings of GPS coordinates. The system has built-in error detection and is available both as a mobile app and API integration. The system works offline without a data connection, ensuring it can be used everywhere. It means

“We are on a mission to change the way people communicate location,” said Chris Sheldrick, CEO and co-founder of what3words. “Sint Maarten has become a global innovator, joining Mongolia and Cote d’Ivoire in leapfrogging the hundreds of other nations that still rely on inaccurate, inconsistent or complex addressing systems. With our partners, from postal systems to ecommerce companies and disaster relief teams, we are making the world a more efficient, less frustrating and safer place.”

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About the Author: Tracy Cozzens

Senior Editor Tracy Cozzens joined GPS World magazine in 2006. She also is editor of GPS World’s newsletters and the sister website Geospatial Solutions. She has worked in government, for non-profits, and in corporate communications, editing a variety of publications for audiences ranging from federal government contractors to teachers.