London-based what3words gets support from Cabinet Office and Channel 4 to expand life-saving geolocation app


London-based startup what3words, whose new navigational system and location-tracing app are credited with saving lives, has received backing from two public bodies in the UK, the Cabinet Office and public-service television station Channel 4. The investment from Channel 4 Ventures is an airtime-for-equity agreement, which aims to raise awareness about the app’s usefulness with emergency services and encourage the public to download it.

The startup has created a new address system for the globe, dividing the world into 57 trillion squares. Each small plot, which is three-square meters, is identified by a unique combination of three words: a what3words address. This way, for example, rather than a single street address for someone’s home, the kitchen has a different address than the bathroom.

Such precision has driven the software’s adoption by over 80 percent of UK emergency services, including police, ambulance, air ambulance, fire & rescue, coastguards and the British Transport Police. Now the software has launched as part of the ResilienceDirect mapping platform with the Cabinet Office and Airbox Systems, providing a single codified place for national agencies to come together when responding to a critical event.

Adoption rate is growing quickly, too. The number of emergency services using what3words last year was just five — now there are 124 across the UK, USA, Canada and Australia. Aside from this, the software has applications in the automotive industry, ride hailing, ecommerce and logistics, and it’s available in 44 languages.

Commenting on the deal, head of Channel 4 Ventures Vinay Solanki said: “We are delighted they are using our innovative model to reach upmarket and tech-savvy viewers to raise awareness of this platform, not only in an emergency but also in everyday life. We believe our investment will compound the numerous use cases that what3words generates for business customers and the public – including emergencies and safe contactless delivery.”

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