Land Rover and What3words put a remote Scottish island on the map, literally

Giving simple three-word addresses to remote homes will enable emergency response teams to find them much more quickly, should need arise.

Kyle Hyatt Former news and features editor
Kyle Hyatt (he/him/his) hails originally from the Pacific Northwest, but has long called Los Angeles home. He's had a lifelong obsession with cars and motorcycles (both old and new).
Kyle Hyatt
2 min read
Land Rover

Living in a deeply rural area can have all kinds of unforeseen challenges, one of which is explaining to emergency services where you live if you need an ambulance. This has been a real problem on the Scottish island of Mull, on which exist many remote houses without traditional addresses, many of which share postal codes. Land Rover and a company called What3words have teamed up to help solve this problem in a fascinating and unique way.

What3words is a mapping company that has come up with a way to establish fairly exact locations without using traditional means of addressing or latitude/longitude coordinates. What it's done is break the entire world down into three-meter by three-meter grid squares and assign each of them a unique series of three words from a dictionary of around 40,000 words with an algorithm choosing simpler words for more populated areas and longer words for more rural areas.

To help solve Mull's emergency services problem, What3words and Land Rover made wooden placards with each dwelling's unique three-word address that can be kept by a telephone and set out to deliver them in a small fleet of Land Rover vehicles which were piloted by Land Rover Experience instructors.

"Using three-word addresses will vastly improve the ability of doctors and nurses, particularly those new to the island, to locate and assist remote-living patients," said Dr. Brian Prendergast, of Mull's Tobermory & Salen Surgeries. "We believe it will not only help us deliver a better routine healthcare service, but will save vital minutes in emergency call-outs that could literally save a life. The island is really grateful to What3words and Land Rover for putting Mull on the map."

Land Rover is no stranger to undeveloped and rugged areas, having long been the vehicle of choice for exploring the wilder places of Earth. Hopefully, this experiment will work, and the two companies can take it to even more areas that need it.