Lack of access to toilets is one of public health’s greatest crises, causing serious diseases that, especially in children, can be fatal. Toilets are particularly rare in India, where an estimated 70 percent of the population doesn’t have access to one. But now, the Indian government and Google are launching a public toilet locator to help people find clean facilities, according to The Verge and the International Business Times India.
The Google Toilet Indicator, sponsored by the Indian Ministry of Urban Development, will be an integrated part of Google Maps. According to India.com, it works like this:
Once you open Maps, you can simply put in any word related to a toilet, like lavatory, toilet, washroom, sauchalay, sulabh, etc. and Google Map Toilet Locator will understand your need. It will then locate all the public toilets in the vicinity and help you locate one closest to you. Additionally, people will be able to review the toilet and give feedback so if the one you visit is particularly stinky and dirty, give it negative ratings and help others stay away.
A pilot program is debuting around New Delhi during the ministry’s “Cleanliness Fortnight,” which runs until November 30. You’ll be able to search for public restrooms and those in metro stations, gas stations, hospitals, and more. Eventually, the app will cover the entire country, but there’s not yet an end date.
Access to toilets isn’t India’s only sanitation problem. Especially in rural areas where open defecation has been the norm for years, it has proven incredibly difficult to convince people to use them, for cultural and personal reasons. Though the Indian government aims to build 60 million toilets by 2019, efforts to curb open defecation haven’t been terribly successful. While a toilet finder can’t fix that problem, it can help foreign tourists and urban residents who are already accustomed to using them.
[h/t The Verge]