Navigation made accurate: India's Pataa app aims to change how you navigate
We’ve all been in situations where we had to either explain a convoluted address or be on the receiving end of one. “Come to area W, lane X, bylane Y, behind the grocery store to house Z," this may sound familiar to many of you. For what it's worth, navigation has traditionally worked this way and even the latest digital navigation systems have been playing catch up as far as accuracy is concerned. However, Indian mapping and geospatial start-up Pataa aims to address this issue with its unique addressing system and this could be the next big thing in how we navigate in the future.
Indore-based start-up Pataa (which translates to “address") is working on making navigation simpler by giving addresses their own identity. The company calls its solution a digital address, which will pinpoint the exact location where you want to go or want your product to be delivered.
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“We created a digital addressing system where you can create a personalised digital address code. In this digital address code, you can add address lines. Because currently, whatever the address is, at least it identifies that this is the area and local people understand it very well," explains Rajat Jain, co-founder - Pataa.
The traditional postal navigation system in India dependent on pincodes but Jain points out that a pincode covers 179 sq. km on average in the country. “In cities, it may be 5-10 km but when you go outside the city, you will see it will cover about 100-200 km of area. You can’t find an address based on pin codes," he says.
Instead, Pataa has divided the world into 3x3 metre squares, creating 57 trillion blocks across the entire planet. When a user creates a digital address, they exactly tag the location with the help of these squares ensuring an accurate digital address. To simplify, a Pataa digital address would be similar to an email address, which is essentially your digital PO box. Only those with the correct email address can send you emails that you receive in your inbox.
Pataa’s digital address works in a similar fashion, where anyone using the digital address will get the exact location to your doorstep. It’s also available in nine languages optimised for Indian users. Much like an email, creating a Pataa digital address is free of charge.
The start-up has signed an MoU with ISRO to enable access to the latter’s Geospatial Services and APIs for the development of an addressing system. The company has also signed an MoU with the city of Indore to have digital addresses. It has created about 5.5 lakh digital addresses so far in coordination with the local government. The start-up plans to expand further one city at a time.
The Pataa app has seen over seven million downloads so far and has over 2.5 million active users. While the digital addressing system identifies and solves a unique problem, it’s also comparable to another global navigation solution - What3Words. Much like Pataa, What3Words also has the world divided into 3x3 metre squares. However, unlike Pataa which gives you the opportunity to personalise the digital address, What3Words relies on random words coming together to create a unique address of that location.
A Pataa digital address comprises three details. In this writer’s case, it would be ^Sameer01. As a user, I would need to mention this as my digital address on my order or share it with a friend for them to reach my home without any issues. Jain further explains that an accurate navigation system will help logistic platforms save a major chunk of time and money.
Jain says, “Logistic companies spend almost ₹6-7 extra per delivery and about 40 per cent of pin codes are wrongly written on parcels. That was the first problem we identified. We then realised why this problem is there. For example, when you order something from Uber or Ola or Zomato, you are able to tag your geolocation but when you order from Amazon, Myntra, Nike and other e-commerce websites, you are not able to tag your geolocation on those platforms. That’s where the problem starts. Globally, about 50 per cent of people in the world lack a physical address which they can properly write on a parcel or an envelope. This was the whole problem we started solving and that is how the idea came that we should create a digital addressing system which should have a personalised and unique shortcode."
Pataa also allows you to add photos and voice notes to accurately describe the location. The company is working with e-commerce platforms to code Pataa into their systems. So instead of writing a complete address, all you need to do is mention your Pataa digital address, which can be then accessed by logistic companies.
The app will also inform you about those using the digital address to reach your home. The feature ensures you don’t have surprises beforehand and the live-tracking option brings another level of transparency for the user. Pata is also eyeing the in-car navigation space that could use digital addresses for easy navigation.
Pataa is working on crowdsourcing data to build its own maps before it enters the navigation space to take on giants like Google and Apple Maps. However, the idea is still a good two to three years away, Rajat explains. The company will be focusing on creating digital addresses first and has set a target of reaching out to at least 30 per cent of the population in the country.
Pataa’s potential lies on a global scale and the start-up is testing waters in the UAE outside of India. It also has plans of expanding to the US market next.