what3words addresses Rio ahead of Summer Olympics

August 3, 2016  - By

The RioGo app.

what3word’s three-word addressing system has been integrated into numerous mapping and navigation services ahead of the Summer Olympics, being held in Rio de Janiero, Brazil, Aug. 5-21.

what3words is used in the RioGo app (which won the Rio Olympics Transport Challenge) and Navmii, an offline satnav app.

what3words makes it easy to find and get to any location in the world, the company explains. The service works both online and offline, and is based on a location reference platform that uses a global grid of 57 trillion 3 x 3-meter squares. Each square has a unique pre-assigned three-word address, no matter how remote. This makes it easy to both pinpoint an address and communicate it — in whichever of its nine different languages travelers prefer, including Brazil’s national tongue Portuguese.

At the Olympics, specifying exactly where to meet or where to go can be difficult. For example, there are four entrances to the Aquatic stadium: expired.stud.cucumber, carbon.padding.puddles, ducks.hillside.frocks and saying.rosette.slogged.

Meeting friends or family in the Olympic Park is easy — meeting at forgiven.milder.dragon (the handball entrance in the Future Arena). If medical attention is needed, tourists can navigate offline to the Jacarepagua Pharmacy is at hint.laws.squares, while the Victoria Hospital is at reheat.admit.take

Outside of the Olympic Park, tourists can park near the Christ the Redeemer statue at puff.goggles.really, or find the start of the walking trail to Sugar Loaf at replays.chain.assist.

Getting around with what3words

There are many different ways what3words will be used during the Olympics. what3words is in RioGo, the official Olympics public transit app — so visitors can use multi-modal journeys (bus, bike hire, walking, taxi…) to navigate around the city.

For navigation when walking or driving, users can type in three-word addresses into Navmii for offline routing to and from three-word addresses.

PocketEarth, an app available on Apple OS, lets users view worldwide street maps and key locations of hostels, cafés, bars, hiking trails and more. Guests simply download the offline map for Brazil and they can navigate the entire country simply, using 3 word addresses for every location.

When planning their trip, visitors can use TripUGo’s travel guide to find museums, swimming spots, adventure playgrounds, hiking and biking trails and much more. Every TripUGo location has its 3 word address listed — from the skatepark at akward.tilting.beams or the Casa do Pontal Museum at owner.includes.solo to the surf spot at Saquarema beach.

Guest houses are now listing their three-word addresses to make sure travelers can find them, even offline. Brazilrentmyhouse.com, for example, set up by entrepreneur Matthew Parker to help visitors find local accommodation during the Rio Games, lists three-word addresses for each rental.

Rio Security

DigitalGlobe has developed an extensive security package to ensure the safety of guests and athletes during Rio 2016. Using its fleet of WorldView satellites, DigitalGlobe’s package that detects disruptions to infrastructure, identifies high-crime zones and offers the most up-to-date imagery of Rio as seen from space, providing security officials with the information needed to formulate comprehensive security planning. It also will help people avoid mosquito zones (Brazil is facing a servere Zika virus outbreak).

what3words has been integrated into the platform. While GPS coordinates are accurate, communicating long strings of numbers between humans is prone to error. With what3words, security teams and those on the ground can quickly identify and easily communicate incidents, team rallying points, helicopter landing sites or temporary triage tents. They can share an accurate location with a paramedic, a security team member or even with civilians and guests.

The DigitalGlobe Rio Olympics security package consists of more than 100 geospatial layers containing over 80,000 features and 1.25 million building footprints, extracted and compiled from DigitalGlobe imagery and publicly available data.


Brazil doesn’t track addresses for its favelas, such as Rio’s largest, Rocinha.

what3words in the favelas

The residents of Rio’s largest favela, Rocinha, already know all about the efficiency of what3words. According to many official maps, Rocinha is just an empty space. More than 3,000 streets and the homes of more than 70,000 residents are invisible.

The Brazilian post office does not deliver in favelas, but a local co-operative, Carteiro Amigo, is using what3words to address every single house in the teeming favela to safely deliver letters and parcels.

This article is tagged with , , and posted in Featured Stories, GIS News, Mapping, Mobile Devices, Technology

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.