Battling Flytipping with 3 Little Words – Making location simple for the citizen

Liz Fox-Tucker (DEFRA) and Rollo Home (Ordnance Survey) hosted a Geography Profession webinar in February 2020.

Here Kevin Williams, Software Solutions Manager and AGI Cymru committee member, presented a talk exploring the pros and cons of using what3words technology to improve flytipping reporting in Neath Port Talbot Council.  What3words is a method of augmenting and supplementing our methods of recording location. While it is not an open source technology, the model is sustainable for government uses, and does work for everyone.

The modes of use of the application are:

  1. Fully automatic on mobile using geolocation from the device which is read into the mobile app.
  2. Entered manually where the what3words address has been captured without our app. It can also be recorded on the what3words mobile app as a bookmark.
  3. From a desktop device which captures the what3words address from their web page and is copy/pasted into our application.
  4. From an SMS text message that can also be sent to a citizen with a what3words link, which then returns an address that is then communicated over the phone to our call centre operative.

The application was found to be quick and easy to implement at no cost, and what3words addresses were able to be permanently stored in Neath Port Talbot Council database.

Views were invited from the audience, many of whom were addressing specialists, and discussions took place on the issues of proprietary versus open solutions.

Many useful insights were shared, including raising awareness about the importance of location for the layperson, improvements in services to the citizen and the savings to the taxpayer through more efficient public services.  Feedback received from the webinar indicated that the talk was a good mix of technical, ethical and professional views,  and the audience was left with much food for thought.

The webinar recording from the day can be viewed here: