What3words Addresses For OSM Buildings

Posted by Martin Seiler on Wed, Jul 22, 2015
Tags what3words geocoding

A while ago I experimented with assigning multilingual what3words addresses to OpenStreetMap buildings in Sierra Leone. I basically downloaded the OSM data, derived the buildings and their centroids and published a map based on CartoDB. Upon a click the what3words-API was queried for the addresses in multiple languages.

There are some obvious disadvantages to this approach.

  • it operates on a static database - hence updates in the OSM database are not taken into account.
  • it doesn’t scale very well. According to taginfo there are currently > 157.000.000 buildings in the OSM database.
  • A user would only want to query a few buildings of particular interest.

So here is a new approach, which makes it possible to easily find what3words addresses for all OSM buildings:


Just click on any building in the map and afterwards on the red dot, marking the center of the geometry. You can also search for a place/address of interest.

Ideas/things to improve:

  • advanced geocoding functionality
  • what3words geocoding support
  • support for all what3words-languages
  • API-error handling & notifications
  • fine-tune the overpass-API calls (feature types, bbox)
  • improve design

I’d be happy to accept pull-request, go ahead and fork the project on github! Also I’d love to hear feedback regarding the usefulness of this approach and/or real world applications using OSM data with what3words addresses.