Out of seven billion inhabitants on Earth, approximately 75% [1] do not have proper addresses that allow their houses, properties or businesses to be located on a map with reasonable precision. To illustrate, consider the two addresses of one of our authors in two different continents.

. [Name], 7116 Via Correto Dr, Austin, TX 78749: the location for this address is readily available and any navigation system can take you to the doorstep in day or night; or in good or bad weather! This is an example of a structured address. . [Name], College Tilla, PO Agartala College, Agartala 799004: Google Maps resolves this address to an area of roughly 76 sq. km. in the city of Agartala. This address is unstructured. . Adding a landmark to the above address, “College Tilla near College Tilla Lake, ..” narrows the answer to an area of approximately 3 sq. km. Upon reaching the place, and depending on how much detailed information about the occupant or the house or the location is known (e.g. whose son/ brother the occupant is, what’s his age, color of his house and if is located by the old mango tree etc.), one would take a additional 15-45 minutes, provided it’s not late night or raining. Moreover, landmark-based addressing is infrequent, incomplete and also inconsistent.

These are not merely one-off experiences that cause inconvenience. The inability to provide an accurate location for each and every address, impacts the livelihood of residents in many ways. It inhibits growth of their local trades such as salons, bakeries or food stalls. It reduces availability of amenities such as creation of bank accounts and delivery of goods and services (e.g., e-commerce) and delays emergency services such as fire brigades and ambulances.