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    By David Crowther



    Can you use a what3words address search in QGIS?



    Yes, there is a plugin available for this!

    Here are some simple steps to get up and running using what3words within your QGIS Projects.

    Follow this web link to get to the download page for the what3words plugin - https://developer.what3words.com/tools/gis-extensions/qgis

    There is then a step-by-step guide to downloading, implementing and using the QGIS Plugin.


    Step 1 – Get the API Key

    Choose the Get an API Key button.


    There will be two plans that you can sign up for which determine the number of requests you can submit per month. In this guide we will use the free usage plan.


    You will then be asked to create an account or sign in. Once signed in you can Generate the API Key.


    Step 2 – Download the Plugin

    Having now created a Project and API Key unique to you or your organisation, you can download the plugin.

    Choose the Download plugin link here.


    This will automatically download the zip file containing the plugin.


    Extract the zip file to reveal the contents.


    Step 3 – Add the Plugin to QGIS

    Once the plugin file has been downloaded and unzipped, you should copy the what3words folder to the QGIS plugins directory. To find your QGIS plugin directory, in QGIS choose Settings > User Profiles > Open Active Profile Folder.


    This will open windows explorer at the location to paste the what3words folder into.


    Now open QGIS and choose > Manage and Install Plugins > Search for the what3words plugin and tick it to enable it.


    Having enabled it, the what3words plugin will now be available under the Plugins menu.


    Here you should choose the Plugin Settings menu and then from your what3words project page choose to Copy the API Key.


    Then Paste the API Key into the Configuration settings.


    The plugin will now be ready to use!


    Step 4 – Using the Plugin

    There are 4 options available with the what3words plugin:

    • Identify a what3words address.
    • Zoom to a what3words address.
    • Extract what3word addresses for a Point Layer.
    • Geocode a file using what3word addresses.

    1 – Identify a what3words address

    Using the what3words tool, simply left click anywhere in the QGIS map canvas and the what3words address for that location will be shown in a message bar.



    2 – Zoom to a what3words address

    If you are given a what3words address you can use the ‘Zoom to 3-word address’ tool to find that location. From the Plugins menu > choose what3words > Zoom to 3-word address and a new toolbar will be embedded at the top of the map canvas.


    Type your 3 words into the address window,


    and having clicked Zoom to, the map will then auto centre over the chosen what3word location.


    3 – Extract what3word addresses for a Point Layer.

    If you have a Point layer in QGIS and you wish to append the what3word address to each record you can use the ‘Add what3words address field to layer’ tool available within the Processing Toolbox.


    Simply select the input Point Layer and then choose an output option. In this example we will extract the what3word addresses for Schools in Northampton.


    Once the tool has ran, the what3words field is added to the layer and the address for each location has been extracted.


    4 – Geocode a file using what3word addresses.

    Finally, you may have a CSV file that has records with a what3words address that you wish to show on the map.


    Open the CSV file into QGIS and then from the Processing Toolbox choose the ‘Geocode what3words address layer’ option.


    Choose the input to be the CSV file and choose which field in the CSV contains the what3words addresses.


    Having pressed Run, the CSV file will be geocoded using the what3words address values and a new point layer will be created.


    Note – what3words provides an addressable reference to any 3 metres on the earth. As such, the location of a what3 words address will be accurate between 0-3 metres, so you may find the location is offset when viewed against other addressable objects using full 1 metre accuracy.




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