How can "What3words" help with navigation at festivals and big events?

What is what3words?

what3words is a unique combination of just 3 words that identifies a 3m x 3m square, anywhere on the planet. It’s more accurate than a postal address and it’s much easier to remember, use, and share than GPS. It was initially created to help third world countries to identify those locations non-existent on maps.

Around 75% of the world, and 135 countries, suffer from inconsistent, complicated or inadequate addressing systems making 4 billion people invisible. These people were unable to report crime, get help, get deliveries and receive aid. There are still places on earth without running water and refugee camps that don’t have an address and couldn’t be located so this mapping system was a long awaited development. What3words means that everyone and everywhere now has an address.

How does it work?

what3words is a universal addressing system based on a 3m x 3m global grid. Each of the 57 trillion 3m x 3m squares in the world has been pre-allocated a fixed & unique 3 word address. As it is an algorithm this solution takes up less than 10MB, small enough to install on almost all smartphones and works across platforms and devices.

In other words, the what3words app has assigned each square a simple three word address to help make finding locations more accurate and memorable. For example, the address for the Peter Pan statue in Hyde Park, London is “union.prop.enjoy” and entering those three words on the what3words mobile app or website will give a precise location for the statue.

How can what3words be used at festivals and other events?

The majority of us are entertainment lovers and for that reason we have been to many music festivals, concerts and sporting events involving thousands of people.

Huge music festivals such as Glastonbury require large-scale accommodation, retail, entertainment, medical care, policing, stewards and security, all in one place to accommodate for the number of attendees.

Directing people to “the fifth tree on the right of the stage if you are facing it” is not a viable solution anymore, especially when responding to an emergency. This is where what3words comes into its own.

The brilliant thing about this software is the ease of use. You can download the app on your smartphone, which will display to you your current location and allow you to share it with people who you want to be found by. No longer will you have the same problems as the thousands at Glastonbury, and other festivals, last year who struggled to find their tents at the weekend. You will be able to pinpoint the exact location of your tent – and your friends’ – with just 3 words.

To prove this system works, last year, Festival Medical Services (FMS), a medical charity and a leading provider of high-quality event medical services, tested the 3 word address system to coordinate their team of medical staff and emergency responders. What3words proved its worth by allowing FMS to respond to incidents in a timelier manner, identifying exact location within seconds. To make it easier for FMS team, a high-resolution satellite image was captured on the first morning of the festival showing the exact positions of all on-site assets, access points and ‘roads’ as they will be for the duration of the event.

The charity’s medical operations are run by Dave Parry, Operations Director at Festival Medical Services.

In his interview after the event, David said:

“In a medical emergency precise communication of a location is paramount. From my experience managing logistics for an ambulance service in a remote area, the quicker, more precise and less ambiguous a provided location is, the higher the chance we have of saving lives. what3words does just that.”

“what3words can guide the responder to the indicated location with turn by turn instructions and provides accurate locations in areas which just don’t have fixed landmarks. This definitely helps to save lives. Moving forward, FMS will be utilising this system at more events and the software is an example for others to follow.”