Here is the seventh interview of our series #yourmobilityvision.
#yourmobilityvision is all about showing what the mobility of the future looks like by introducing companies, people behind them, researchers and institutions operating in our truly wonderful sector.
In this interview we are talking to David Shakory, Director Partnerships at what3words.
What is your company’s vision and how do you embrace it in your everyday doing?
what3words is a really simple way to talk about location. We’ve given every 3 metre square in the world a unique combination of three words: a what3words address. what3words addresses are available in over 45 languages to date. Our long term goal is to become a global addressing standard, so everyone in the world has a simple and reliable address they can use whenever they need it.
Innovation is at the heart of what we do, and we embrace it everyday. By developing an entirely new addressing system, we’re providing a unique solution to a problem very few others are tackling, meaning that we often have to work things out for ourselves, test ideas and refine strategy as we continue to grow rapidly and expand globally.
How is what3words used?
what3words addresses are discovered, shared and saved in our free mobile app and at what3words.com. We also license our API and SDK so that what3words addresses can be used directly within apps, products, tools and services around the world, across multiple industries – from automotive, UAVs, logistics and navigation to travel, emergency services and disaster response.
What is the collaboration between your company and Ben about?
Ben’s team is using what3words to find work locations faster and more easily. Often the vehicles they’re attending to are located in typically hard-to-find locations, such as large car parks or on long stretches of road where regular addresses simply don’t work. With what3words, they can find any vehicle and communicate its exact location with the team using just three words.
What is special about your company? What are the aspects you are particularly proud of?
We’re bringing a bold idea to life, one that disrupts the norm and empowers positive change in a simple, achievable way.
what3words is the only addressing system built for voice – using a list of around 25,000 dictionary words that are easy to program into voice-controlled assistants. We account for similar sounding words like toffee and coffee, and words that are easily confused, such as stole and stolen. 3 word addresses are all unique, and similar sounding ones are placed far apart to make any mistakes obvious to the user. For example ///drag.violin.connects is in downtown Berlin and ///drag.violins.connects is in northern Australia.
With global, reliable, and future-facing addresses, car makers can allow drivers to navigate accurately wherever they’re going, whether it’s a specific entrance to a building or in the middle of a field. Voice navigation will become a convenient way to input addresses, rather than a cool but hit-or-miss feature.
Mercedes-Benz announced the world’s first car with what3words voice navigation in 2018; since then our precision navigation feature is now available in HERE maps, Mitsubishi, Ford, Triumph Motorcycles and Tata Motors – with many more to come.
What challenges do you face?
Incidentally, the fact we’re the first and only company tackling this problem with a solution of its kind is also one of our greatest challenges – we’re trying to effect a huge, global behavioural change. People have been using street addresses their entire lives, without questioning them. They get lost, packages go astray and billions of people worldwide have no address at all but, until they’re challenged to really think about it, some people don’t inherently feel there’s a problem.
We’re incredibly proud of all we’ve achieved to date and ambitious about our plans to scale. Typically, as soon as people see how poor addressing affects them personally, they immediately see the need for our solution. Partnerships with Airbnb, Lonely Planet or hotel chains such as Penta Hotels and Premier Inn as well as thousands of accommodation providers are also helping us to ‘normalise’ what3words addresses – as they appear on booking confirmations, websites in travel guides and on signage, including on Autobahn signs throughout Bavaria.
What is the impact you would like to have on the mobility of the future?
We want to make mobility better, safer and easier for everyone. We want mobility services worldwide to use what3words addresses to become more efficient. We want to continue helping e-commerce to thrive in on-demand economies and make it possible in developing countries where there is poor addressing infrastructure, or no addressing at all.
We’re already doing that by helping major organisations improve the accuracy of drop-off destinations and allow for better route optimisation including the likes of DB Schenker, Aramex, Hermes, Lobster Logistics and DPD who use what3words to improve last-mile logistics efficiencies.
We’re also used by multiple ride-hailing apps to help riders set precise pick-up and drop-off points, for safer and smoother journeys. From Careem in the Middle East, to Addison Lee in the UK and in Spanish and Portuguese-speaking cities, approximately 40 million Cabify ride-hailing app users can input destinations with just three words.
We’re also excited to offer a simple means for mobility partners to reduce environmental impact and pressure on crowded cities. For instance, we help Lime to better track mis-parked assets, improve public order and to integrate e-bikes and e-scooters even better into the urban landscape.