How many ways can I describe the location of our office? In short, plenty.
1. Our office is in Kololo I Parish but more commonly known as Kamwokya or Kisementi.
2. We are at Plot 30 Bukoto Street according to Open Street Map and to the city authorities two months back.
3. We're at Plot 20 Bukoto Street according to the new address system (see an example in the image below). The road name is likely to change soon too.
4. We are at Plot 30 Bukoto Road according to Google Maps.
5. We’re on the left about 150m down Bukoto Road/Street from the Acacia mall side.
6. We are near Cavendish university and Alliance Francais and opposite a Yellow Red Bar. You’ll see our sign.
7. We are at any of these coordinates if we use just one of the multiple projection systems.
o Decimal Degrees 0.340124° 32.588088°
o Degrees Minutes Seconds 0°20'24.45"N 32°35'17.12"E
o Degrees Decimal Minutes 0° 20.407'N 32° 35.285'E
o Universal Transverse Mercator 36N 454164.39 m E 37594.09 m N
o Military Grid Reference System 36NVF5416437594
'Where' Is Complicated
It’s hard to communicate location, especially in developing countries. There is no standard. It's either too general (near the mango tree) or too specific and human unfriendly (Universal Transverse Mercator 36N 454164.39 m E 37594.09 m N).
How do they develop property taxes if they don’t have formal addresses? How long does it take the police to find your house as a thief is breaking in? How does Pizza Hut bring your dinner (you really should cook at home more by the way) or the villager report the damaged borehole that is no-where near a road?
So we decided to use something called What3Words to assign a human friendly location code to every building in the city. What3Words divided the entire world into 3*3m grids and assigned three words to each. So now we can say over the phone that we’re located at Ambition.Waxer.Shuttled and our contact can enter that into the W3W app to navigate here with ease. Try doing that with Universal Transverse Mercator 36N 454164.39 m E 37594.09 m N.
We're speaking to the Ugandan Police Force and the Kampala city authorities about using this for their work.
Have a play about with the map below. Click on each of the 399,388 and you won't find one with the same reference. If you do, you win a free interwebs!