News

Google is Launching a Toilet Locator App

Published On 11/15/2016 Published On 11/15/2016

Google Maps is a one-stop resource for geographically pin-pointing basically anything. But when it comes to finding a clean bathroom in a time of desperation, the app’s usefulness suddenly plummets. In places like India, where clean public bathrooms aren’t an amenity available to everyone, this is a huge problem.

But that’s why Google is teaming with the Indian government to launch a Toilet Locator App, which will link you up with a suitable facility when things are feeling grim.

First reported by the International Business Times India, the pilot project debuts this month in the National Capital Region of greater New Delhi. According to an Indian government official, the Toilet Locator goes beyond the pale of helping one find a Starbucks or gas station, and will include toilets in hospitals, metro stations and shopping centers.

An official with knowledge of the project explained: "People will first need to open Google Maps, and then search for toilets near them. They can search for a variety of keywords, like 'toilet', 'lavatory’... and Google will point them to the nearest toilets." A different official said that as the project gains momentum, it will mostly be crowdsourced by different users, who can review toilets -- which will indeed be a strange endeavor. This will ultimately help people avoid bathroom horror stories, fashioning the Toilet Locator App a kind of Yelp for restrooms.

To that end, the Locator sounds a bit more like a widget or update to the general Google Maps app, as it allows one to search for a toilet within Google Maps just like one does a bakery or a post-office. And it definitely isn’t the first time a crowdsourced effort has tackled the world’s dearth of sanitary public restrooms.

Although the project is still in its nascency, it intends to expand to more of India’s urban centers and rural districts. If successful, there’s no reason that it shouldn’t expand to more countries internationally, because everybody poops.

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Sam Blum is a News Staff Writer for Thrillist. He's also a martial arts and music nerd who appreciates a fine sandwich and cute dogs. Find his clips in The Guardian, Rolling Stone, The A.V. Club and Vice. He's on Twitter @Blumnessmonster. 

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