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Pinpointing damage with what3words

30 Jul 2021

At Openreach, we look after 192 million kilometres of network cable, 110,000 green cabinets, and 4.9 million telephone poles and junction boxes across the UK. We keep homes, businesses, and emergency services connected, so when part of our network is damaged, it’s vital that we’re able to respond quickly. To do so, we need to know exactly where the problem is, and as many of our poles and overhead wires are in rural or remote areas, with no address and few identifying features, this can be a challenge. Which is why what3words is so useful, both for us and for members of the public. 

How what3words is helping us to help you

They’ve divided the world into 3-metre squares and given each one a what3words address, made up of a unique combination of three words. For example, the precise location of Openreach’s Head Office in London can be found at ///lock.factor.tall

This makes it easy for you to report the exact location of an incident to us – whether damaged equipment, vandalism, graffiti, or safety concerns. A what3words address is as accurate as GPS coordinates, but much easier to share over the phone or radio. It’s the simplest and quickest way to communicate an exact location, which allows to us respond as quickly as possible. Instead of having to ‘pole-hunt’, our engineers know precisely where to go to fix the issue.

"Being able to communicate a location is critical in the event of an emergency."

The use of a what3words address in reporting to us is growing all the time, with nearly half of all calls and a quarter of chats providing one. Chris Sheldrick, the founder and CEO of what3words, summed it up best: “By adopting what3words, Openreach is making it really easy for the public to report damage and for their operational teams to improve efficiency. Being able to communicate a location is also critical in the event of an emergency”.

To report damage across our network, use the free what3words app to let us know exactly where to send our team - it even works completely offline. Help keep us all connected - download the app.


Download the what3words app