[lg policy] Sending Mail in Mongolia? ‘Dissident.sloth.ploy’ Could Be the Address

Fierman, William wfierman at indiana.edu
Thu Aug 11 09:26:24 EDT 2016

Sending Mail in Mongolia? ‘Dissident.sloth.ploy’ Could Be the Address

What in the World

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Credit Sasha Portis

If you happen to be invited to a party at the United States Embassy in Ulan Bator, Mongolia, you might address your R.S.V.P. to “eyebrows.conforms.zebra.” Have a care package for a student at the Institute of Finance and Economics of Mongolia? Writing “during.snapper.housework” on the parcel will get it there.

These oddly poetic three-word codes will soon act as a stand-in for the more common addressing convention of house number, street name and postal code, which never quite caught on in Mongolia, one of the world’s most sparsely populated countries.

They are the invention of a British start-up, What3Words, that has mapped the world into 57 trillion patches of nine square meters and given each one a unique three-word identity.

“Words are easier to remember and communicate than GPS or other alphanumeric systems,” said Giles Rhys Jones, a What3Words spokesman.

Mongol Post, the country’s largest mail provider, has licensed the system from What3Words, and starting in September it will offer customers the option of using the three-word codes. (The company added Mongolian to its first 10 languages; 14 more are coming.)
What 3 Words Do You Call Home?

Enter your address, or any other one, into the What3Words map, and get the three-word code for any location in the world.
what3words map in object

Mongol Post has long labored to deliver the mail, even in the absence of snow, rain or gloom of night. Many Mongolians still lead nomadic lives, and some have to collect mail from post-office boxes dozens of miles from home. Failed deliveries are common.

“Try to find someone moving around with their animals on a territory the size of Alaska,” said Ganhuyag Ch. Hutagt, the chief executive of Ard Financial Group, an owner of Mongol Post.

Even in and around Ulan Bator, the capital, finding a house or a business can depend more on local landmarks than on the often nonexistent street names and numbers: Take a left at the gas station, then go up the hill and look for a yurt with a yellow flag. Envelopes typically include a cellphone number, so postal workers can call for directions.

Under the new system, Mongolians will be able to use a What3Words smartphone app to look up the three-word code for where they are or where they want to send mail, by placing a pointer over a spot on the app’s global map or by entering an address if one is available. Postal workers can then use the app to arrive at the location by sending the three words, automatically converted into GPS coordinates, to any navigation system on their phone for turn-by-turn directions.
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