Things I wish I’d thought of – Geohash

I get lots of great ideas. Sometimes I do nothing with them, sometimes I get motivated enough to actually try and get them off the ground.

Over the holidays I was off to a friends wedding at a place I’d never been to before. They were nice enough to include the Melway reference on the invitation but our TomTom GPS doesn’t understand Melway references so we had to manually enter the address, it doesn’t take long but is still a bit fiddly and can be prone to errors when suburbs collide.

If only there was a human readable easy to enter code for a latitude and longitude like the G-Code system that was popular on VCRs in the 90’s. (just looked in my Sunday TV guide, looks like people must still use it!)

The solution would be pretty straight forward, just encode the two numbers as a base 16 number (hexadecimal). That should be easy to enter and would shorten the numbers somewhat. If I used more letters than just A to F then I could shorten the codes further. I would have to leave out letters like “I” and “O” as they could be confused with 1 and 0. I thought this over in my head for the full half hour the drive took then forgot about it was the wedding started and I enjoyed the day with my friends.

About a week later the thought came back to me but this time I was within reach of a computer. First I had better check that it didn’t already exist, onto Wikipedia and a bit of clicking later I cam across Geohash. Yes, it already exists, has since Feb 2008 which isn’t really that long.

It even has quite a useful website at The site gave me the Geohash code of “r1r2f63rrw741” for my work address – still a bit of a mouth full but better than “-37.8232760 145.2962320”

You then get a nice ULR to your address

Now we just need the GPS makers to get on board with the idea!