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Mapbox to Help Drivers Navigate More Easily With Advanced Location Technology From ‘what3words' in New Partnership

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【Summary】San Francisco-based Mapping company Mapbox announced it will integrate location technology from London-based company "what3words", which will make its easier for drivers to navigate to a specific location or address with a higher degree of accuracy.

Eric Walz    Aug 17, 2021 10:00 AM PT
Mapbox to Help Drivers Navigate More Easily With Advanced Location Technology From ‘what3words' in New Partnership

San Francisco-based Mapping company Mapbox announced it will integrate location technology from London-based company what3words, which will make its easier for drivers to navigate to a specific location or address with a higher degree of accuracy.

The geospatial, location, mapping and navigation technology developed by what3words is unique. The London-based software company, which was founded in 2013, has mapped the entire globe then divided it up into 57 trillion, three meter squares. Each square can be located by using just three simple words that one each is assigned.

Mapbox will offer access to what3words location technology through its Dash application for developers, which was designed from the ground up as a turnkey solution to assist automakers to create fully customizable in-car navigation features for their model lineups. Mapbox has around 2.7 million developers building products with its SDKs and APIs.

Mapbox developers can enable the technology or follow a step-by-step guide for using the technology directly with the underlying Mapbox SDKs and APIs. 

With new support for what3words, drivers will be able to use Mapbox-powered apps to discover places that don't have an address, including hiking trails, beaches or EV charging points.

Mapbox Dash offers live traffic and streaming map updates with data from over 100 billion real time sensor readings per week. The map data includes details such as speed limits, gas stations and parking.

General Motors was the first automaker to adopt Mapbox Dash with the launch of its Maps+ feature in April. Maps+ is a connected in-car navigation application built on Mapbox Dash, Its being rolled out to approximately 900,000 GM compatible vehicles as part of of GM's connected services plans. Drivers will be able to upgrade their existing vehicle to include a full featured in-car navigation system with a simple over the air software update.

Using what3words to Find a Precise Location

Traditional addresses are often long and complex, which makes them more difficult to enter into vehicle navigation systems. In addition, these addresses are often imprecise, covering a large general area. But oftentimes a precise location is needed, such as locating a specific place in a sprawling shopping center or sports stadium.

What3words says that around 75% of the world's countries lack a reliable address system, making it harder for people to find each other. This problem is compounded in the era of mobility-on-demand and e-commerce delivery services.

Many people have experienced having a package delivered to the wrong address or an Uber driver dropping them off a few doors away from an entrance to a building. The problem is that street addresses are not always precise enough, and they don't exist in parks or rural areas. 

For drivers its offers a bit more convenience. Instead of having to enter an address of numbers and street names into a vehicle's navigation system, locations can be selected using the three simple keywords that what3words assigned to each grid.

The technology developed by what3words is not only for addresses though. Any location in the world can be found with just three keywords, including hiking trails and parks, EV charging locations, beaches and other popular destinations.

Outdoor enthusiasts can also use location technology from what3words to share the precise entrance to trailheads and bike paths, or the best vantage points for photography. 

For example, if a driver wants to navigate to an exact three meter square for an Instagram worthy photo of the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, which is one of the world's most photographed man-made objects, they can enter "///usual.trying.highs" and navigate to the precise location that offers the best view, or share the location with others.

By using three keywords, addresses or specific locations are easier to remember and can be entered and saved in navigation software more easily. The location technology also works with popular navigation services such as Google Maps, Bing and Waze. 

Percise locations can also be shared via social media, including Twitter, Facebook and Whatsapp, or emailed or sent via SMS to help others find an exact spot anywhere in the world.

"Our cloud-based platform already allows millions of users to access the best live information - now we're adding in what3words as a convenient way to enter destinations via voice or virtual keyboard," said Alex Barth, Head of Automotive at Mapbox. "This makes Mapbox Dash compatible with systems that already use what3words and offers unambiguous address entry with pinpoint accuracy to drivers."

End users can search and navigate to precise locations using a what3words address, eliminating many of the frustrations encountered by drivers when attempting to enter full street addresses.

The three word addresses make it easier to find locations with duplicate addresses as well. For example, There are countless "Main Streets" in towns all across the U.S. and what3words has a specific set of words assigned to each of them.

"Millions of daily journeys and deliveries are reliant upon digital maps for live updates on traffic and sophisticated route optimization. But addressing - the infrastructure that underpins how people interact with digital maps - has largely been unchanged," said Chris Sheldrick, co-founder and CEO of what3words. "The difficulties of traditional street addressing worldwide, which is often irregular, incomplete and insufficiently accurate, makes finding a specific location and communicating it to others an imperfect science. This integration with Mapbox brings a simple way to enable our address system to the millions of users that use Mapbox services every day."

Just like traditional addresses containing numbers and street names, three word addresses are being used more frequently in travel guide books like Lonely Planet, restaurant listings, hotel booking confirmation and invitations. 

what3words works collaboratively with mapping systems like Mapbox and has been adopted by global automotive and mobility companies, including Mercedes-Benz and leading logistics provider DB Schenker. Mercedes-Benz was the first automotive manufacturer to integrate "three word addresses" in its in-vehicle navigation system, making its easier for drivers to find specific locations.

what3words' technology is also being used by more than 200 emergency services control rooms around the world for faster and more effective emergency response to exact locations. 

Mapbox live location technology is accessed by more than 600 million users each month. There are over 45,000 mobile apps powered by Mapbox SDKs.

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