140: Unlocking the grid: the fascinating story of what3words' unique localization journey

October 24, 2023

‘Hurt. Soap. Blows.’

In case you are wondering, we haven’t gone crazy, these are just the three words what3words uses to describe our location today. But now we’re wondering what those three words would be like in French. Well, if we switch languages, it becomes ‘Gîte. Lavande. Aviron.’

There are so many situations in life where you need to tell someone exactly where you are, but you don’t have the tools to do so. what3words has divided the entire world into 3-meter squares and assigned each of those squares a unique 3-word address, which is a very human friendly way of describing it to someone you’re talking to. Listen to Jamie Brown, Chief Language Office at what3words, describe how they help deliver post in favelas but also save lives in the context of their collaboration with emergency services around the world, thanks to the app being available offline.

In this episode, you’ll discover the unique localization process that what3words had to develop because words are literally their product and the tool for talking about their product, and because, among many other examples, one word in English can become 3 words in French.

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Jamie Brown

Jamie Brown

Chief Language Services Officer at what3words

Jamie Brown has headed the languages department at what3words since 2014, and recently launched the company’s 60th language version. This huge language research programme has taken him all around the world, working with over 3,000 linguists and language enthusiasts. It would not have been possible without a dedicated London-based team of full-time linguists, who work tirelessly to ensure that as many people as possible round the world have access to this transformative technology in a language they understand.


Jordan Cockrell

Jordan Cockrell

Global Operations Manager at RWS Group

Jordan is a Global Operations Manager at RWS Group. She is an experienced Operations Manager working with a range of major blue chip clients across the Globe. She is passionate about exceeding client’s expectations and her main focus is onboarding new customers and creating bespoke solutions based on individual needs. 
She enjoys working in a fast paced environment and is always looking for new ways to challenge herself.

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