The QALocate system is a brilliantly simple way of referring to locations, buildings, routes and structures. At its heart is a way of identifying any point on the earth’s surface using a human-friendly sentence-like group of words.

For instance New York is xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx; London is xxxxxxxxxxxxxx, Tokyo is xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx and Delhi is xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx.

Qalocate can be as precise as you like. The front door of the white house is identified to within 150 mm by the phrase: xxxxxxxxxxxxx. If necessary locations can be expressed to within 5 mm by a seven-word phrase.

(This needs a link to a map where you can get to your location, click on it and produce a QAcode.)

The core of QALocate is simple to use and understand. It is open source, meaning that anyone can use the system completely free of charge. QALocate is mathematically simple, so translation to and from QALocate references is easy: coding and decoding software can incorporated into the simplest of electronic devices.

As well as identifying locations, QALocate comes with other powerful tools.

PointCodes, a “!” followed by up to 63 characters, the simplest way for anyone to refer to a location or structure.

StrutureLocator, a globally unique, alphanumeric identifier for every building and structure on the planet.

Location Naming System (LNS), turning human-friendly names to StructureLocators.

Waysette, a navigation app purpose-built for rideshare drivers.


How do four-word QALocate phrases work?

QALocate builds on the equally brilliant Geohash method of identifying points on the earth’s surface. (See our explanation of how Geohash works.)

The 9-character geohash for New York is dr5regw3p which identifies a square 4.7m x 4.7 m right in the centre of New York. (Should be specified.) For the populated regions of the world we encode this 9-digit geohash into human-readable form by splitting it into four chunks and encoding each as a word.

dr5        re         gw        3p

Man     bites    angry    dog.

Noun   verb     adjective  noun

The choice of noun-verb-adjective-noun produces sentence-like groups of four words that are easy for humans to communicate. The choice of words is such that minor inaccuracies common in communication do not affect the outcome: ‘men bit angry dogs’ translates to the same geohash because QALocate treats singular and plural as the same and every form of the verb as the same.

Encoding and decoding are both a simple process of looking up in a small group of tables to find the word that corresponds to 2 or 3 characters, or the 2 or 3 characters which correspond to a word.

 Why do we need five-word phrases?

Four-word phrases cover the populated areas of the world but there are insufficient familiar words to cover the whole world with four words. QA locate uses five-word phrases to extend its coverage over the whole world, adding one of 32 adjectives to identify the first letter of the geohash.

Hairy goat eats thin camel.

Again the phrases are sentence-like and easy for humans to remember.

How accurate can QALOCATE specify

QALocate can specify to a precision of less than 5 mm by using phrases up to 7 words long.

Examples here.

What’s wrong with Open Location Code

Lift much of existing text.

Why QALocate beats What3Words.

Text required: no proprietary, only 7 lookup tables, similar codes are near and, generally, near things have similar codes.

Where does the Geohash come from?

Geohash first splits the equator into 8 sections, each 45° of longitude wide. Then it splits the latitude into 4 sections, again each section 45° of latitude wide. This splits the world’s surface into these 32 regions 

It is easier if we draw these regions on, as we are used to, a flat map which represents the earth’s surface.

The single character Geohash reference 6 identifies much of Latin America. Australia spans codes QR and China is mostly code W.

For more precision we subdivide each of these large regions into smaller regions. Here we go down to level 2.

Here is level 3 and you can see that Mysuru is in square tdn.

With 9  characters, location can be specified to just under 5 m, which is sufficient for most purposes. But with up to 13 characters, you can specify a location to within less than 5 mm.

Geohash is a 32-base system. It uses the 10 digits 0-9 plus 22 alphabet letters, omitting letter A and the letters I, L and O which are easily confused.