Blog Editor’s Note: This is a great example of making a system more resilient with a better user interface.

As a helicopter pilot, at every new duty station it would take me several weeks to memorize the latitude and longitude of a new base so I could program the flight management system without looking at my crib sheet.

In 2016 when I read that my office was at fuel.mercy.mixed I remembered from that point forward. It has been in my email address box ever since.

Three words are also much better in a distress situation when folks are stressed and could confuse a series of lat/long numbers when calling for help.


What3words: The app that can save your life 

15 August 2019

Police have urged everyone to download a smartphone app they say has already saved several lives. What is it and how does it work?

Kicked. Converged. Soccer.

These three randomly chosen words saved Jess Tinsley and her friends after they got lost in a forest on a dark, wet night.

They had planned a five-mile circular stroll through the 4,900 acre (2,000 hectare) woodland Hamsterley Forest, in County Durham, on Sunday evening, but after three hours they were hopelessly lost.

“We were in a field and had no idea where we were,” the 24-year-old care worker from Newton Aycliffe said.

“It was absolutely horrendous. I was joking about it and trying to laugh because I knew if I didn’t laugh I would cry.”

At 22:30 BST they found a spot with phone signal and dialled 999.

“One of the first things the call-handler told us to do was download the what3words app,” Ms Tinsley said.

“I had never heard of it.”

Within a minute of its download, the police said they knew where the group was and the soaked and freezing walkers were swiftly found by the Teesdale and Weardale Search and Mountain Rescue Team.