Google Maps’ Latest Is Perfect For Tourists: A Public Toilet Indicator App

Both Joe and I browse the internet to find stuff we like, either that we can write about, or include on our weekly post of what others have posted. But sometimes Joe will see something and say, “Sharon, this has your name written all over it.” Such was the case when he recently read about the toilet finder that Google Maps had developed. Geesh, you write one post about the weird toilets in Chicago (OK, and you also still laugh at poop and fart jokes even though you’re old enough to have voted for Mondale…cuz deep down inside, I’m really an 8y/o boy) and you have a reputation for forever! 😉

So anyway, yeah, Google has teamed up with the Indian government and developed a public washroom locator app to help decrease the prevalence of public urination and defecation in India. Unfortunately, about 70 percent of Indian households don’t have access to toilets so “going” in open spaces is a huge problem in the country that puts Indians at risk for multiple illnesses due to poor sanitation.

Screen Shot 2017-12-17 at 7.25.48 PMThe app launched in the states of Dehli and Madhya Pradesh and includes features such as cleanliness ratings, the style of toilet and whether or not it’s a pay toilet.

“When you search for ‘public toilet’ on Google Maps in an area where the service is available, you’ll see a list of restrooms near you, including the respective address and opening hours,” said Sanket Gupta, product manager Google Maps India, at a launch event in Delhi.

“For instance, if you’re traveling on the national highway 8 in Gurugram, locating a public toilet can be challenging and most often the only option is going to nearby restaurants and cafes. Having this information handy can make things much easier.”

Critics of the app (why would you be a critic of such a thing???) suggest the service is only as good as available internet service and knowing how to use the Google Maps on a smartphone, stressing that most of those with no access to proper sanitation live in more rural areas.

Meanwhile, Google has launched this video, which I think it adorable:

Seriously though, I think it’s a valiant and WISE effort on the part of Google and the Indian government to try to work on the widespread problem of sanitation in India, and I truly hope it goes well for them. If nothing else, it should help tourists with finding toilets while they’re visiting. And as someone who has been caught looking for a toilet in other countries (but who has never “gone” in public, I promise!), I kind of hope the program spreads to places that are not necessarily at risk for sanitation issues, just for the sake of convenience, y’know?

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