The app what3words breaks down all the spaces on earth into 3 meter by 3 meter squares and assigns each of those squares a unique set of three words. Anyone who knows the three words for a square can pinpoint it with GPS – just ask the group of lost hikers in a UK forest who got help in about a minute thanks to the system. Plus: the great state of Wisconsin is home to a 45 X 90 monument – the center point of the northern half of the Western Hemisphere. We’ve got it all in this state!

This Smartphone App Can Save Your Life with Just 3 Words (Interesting Engineering)

45 X 90 Geographical Marker (Atlas Obscura)

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If you’re not down with app-based navigation I’ve got three words for ya!

It’s hard to believe in our GPS-saturated world that we could ever get lost again. And yet, we still do.

That’s what happened to Jess Tinsley of Newton Aycliffe, England. She and some friends were out hiking in a nearly 5,000 acre forest and realized that they weren’t sure where they were.

Tinsley and friends used a smartphone to call authorities to say they were lost in a giant forest.

The authorities said, there’s an app for that.

It’s called what3words, and it breaks down all the spaces on earth into 3 meter by 3 meter squares and assigns each of those squares a unique set of three words.

Anyone who knows the three words for a square can pinpoint it with GPS, a little more to the point than trying to read off your latitude and longitude coordinates.

The lost hikers gave their three words to the first responders and within about a minute of the call, help was on its way.

Police say the app has already saved lives in emergencies because they can find their locations more quickly.

And that’s handy in non-emergencies as well. In fact, the country of Mongolia has done away with its postal codes and switched to what3words codes as well.

For those who are wondering, there is a what3words code cool.weird.awesome. It’s in a remote spot of Queensland in Australia. I don’t think anybody lives there – but if you do, drop us a line.

What3Words map with a "Cool.Weird.Awesome" square in Queensland, Australia

Since we’re talking about geography today I want to sing the praises of my home state of Wisconsin. The town of Athens, in Marathon County, is home to the center point of the northern half of the western hemisphere.

The 90th meridian of longitude, meeting the 45th parallel of latitude – halfway from the equator to the North Pole, and halfway between the Prime Meridian and International Date Line.

I’m telling you, we’ve got it all here.