Plus Codes are the addresses you didn’t know you have

Woman reading a fold-out map in a seemingly remote area
Photo by Leah Kelley from Pexels

I’m fascinated by Plus Codes, a @googlemaps initiative to give people without conventional street addresses, a GPS-based address that can be used to receive mail or assistance when they need it.

I’ve noticed #PlusCodes in Google Maps, and didn’t really explore them further. Take this one as an example. It’s apparently a beautiful hiking spot in Northern Israel that looks like a great place to visit.

Leaving aside casual tourism, #PlusCodes are much more useful in regions that just don’t have conventional street addresses, and where the people living there are dramatically under-served.

Consider communities in densely packed Indian cities –

Or Native American communities who emergency services struggle to reach in time because they don’t have clear directions to head to when people call for help.

These #PlusCodes could even be helpful for general postal delivery in somewhat less remote regions. Some of my colleagues recently shared some stories of sheer postal heroism by @Postvox workers like this.

Plus Codes could be super helpful here too.

Most us don’t have an immediate use for #PlusCodes because we tend to have conventional street addresses, and receive mail (mostly) and have access to emergency services.

I find this sort of initiative fascinating. It’s apparently #opensource too.

Originally tweeted by Paul Jacobson (@pauljacobson) on 2021-04-02.

Also What 3 Words

One of my colleagues pointed out @what3words as an alternative to Google's #PlusCodes that I was tweeting about yesterday.

It's a similar initiative designed to give people without traditional addresses, an alternative addressing system that uses a sequence of three words.

I was wondering how well this works in communities that don't speak English, and it turns out that this works in a number of other languages too.

The one benefit of @what3words is that the locations are probably much more memorable than #PlusCodes locations, and having multiple languages versions helps sidestep unfamiliarity with a local language.

There are also a number of use cases for this system (as with #PlusCodes) that can be as simple as sharing a picnic spot with friends.

I imagine one of the big adoption factors is how well this integrates into how we navigate our world.

#PlusCodes are integrated into Google Maps, so they're immediately available in an app you may already be using.

There is also an app for @what3words so will people download?

Originally tweeted by Paul Jacobson (@pauljacobson) on 2021-04-03.

The what3words team responded to one of my tweets with the following:


Photo by Leah Kelley from Pexels

By Paul

Enthusiast, writer, Happiness Engineer at Automattic. I take photos too. Passionate about my wife, Gina and #proudDad.

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