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Mapping has been reinvented, but almost no one has noticed. We still rely on street addresses in a world where billions live on streets with no names. We depend on GPS - the global positioning system developed by the US military - despite widespread ignorance of how to express that position. There is a startlingly simple solution that has been available for the past decade. Mapcodes, invented by Dutchmen Pieter Geelen and Harold Goddijn, founders of the navigation technology company TomTom, allocates a group of letters and digits to represent any location on earth. A mere four digits, separated by a dot, can locate any spot in South Africa. Mapcodes were placed in the public domain in 2008 and, five years later, the Mapcode Foundation was formed to stimulate its use. There have been a few spectacular successes, but these have usually been in areas that seldom come to public attention. For example, the documentation of archaeological and botanical finds previously depended on capturi...

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