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"Where the Streets Have No Name" Isn't Just a Song but Also a Country

There are plenty of things most of us take for granted; things so basic, it’s hard to imagine why or how could anyone live without them. From the roof over our heads to the running water, they’re just there from the moment we were born and until we go back to the void.
Accra traffic 1 photo
But in those brief moments when we stop and think about this and that, we realize not everybody is as lucky. Some people don’t have all that, while others have them, but lack other basic features such as... street names and house numbers.

That’s the situation in Ghana, for example, a place where people still use important landmarks and other less important ones to navigate through the city. For example, a local won’t tell you he lives on a certain street, but he might use the color of his fence to identify his property. And if you’re lost, somebody will tell you to turn right once you pass the barber shop, and then left just before you reach the red brick wall.

It seems odd that one of the more developed African countries would lack such a basic and even vital feature such as a labeled network of streets. But if you think it may be funny to try this thing that makes you feel like a scout without even leaving the city, just imagine what it’s like to be an ambulance driver. Knowing that a person’s life might depend on your ability to tell a mango tree from an orange one - the clue as to where your patient is - is nothing but unnecessary stress.Salvation in the form of an app
Now, though, there’s a smartphone app called SnooCode that promises to change all this. Instead of naming the streets and assigning house numbers to every building, what this app does is pinpoint each property using GPS technology and generate a specific code for each and every one of them.

This might seem like a complicated solution to a simple problem, and one that not everybody will have access to (it does require a GPS capable smartphone), but bear in mind it’s all the work of one man doing what the government should have done a long time ago. The man’s name is Dagadu, and after he has studied engineering at a university in the UK, he has now returned home where he’s working full-time on developing the app.

Creating a satellite navigation system for a country with no street names or numbers must be a daunting task. His solution is both simple and elegant and has the single drawback of requiring a smartphone to generate the code. Speaking to the BBC, Dagadu explains how it all works: "You stand in front of your house, push the code button and you get a code not unlike a postcode in the UK. Except this code is super precise - in the UK you need a postcode and a house number - with this you only need the code."

Naturally, there are already plenty of parties interested, with the emergency services being the most obvious option. Also, because of the previous situation, Ghana was missing on a very important job segment: couriers. Mr. Dagadu’s invention will undoubtedly change forever the way his country works. That must be a wonderful feeling to experience.


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