Ever had to wait for hours to go to a decent toilet just because you didn't know if any were around, or because the ones you found were simply too dirty? Those days may be soon behind you, because the Ministry of Urban Development (MoUD) is launching a Google Toilet Locator in association with the search giant, with a view to helping people find the nearest and cleanest toilets in cities and towns across India.
The facility, which will be available on Google Maps, will be piloted in the National Capital Region (NCR) starting some time within the next 15 days — from November 16 to November 30 — which the MoUD is celebrating as Swachhata Pakhwada, or Cleanliness Fortnight.
Which toilets will be listed?
An MoUD official, who did not wish to be named, told International Business Times, India, that the ministry is already in the process of rolling out this facility in the NCR region. She also said the toilets would include not only the public restrooms or Sulabh Shauchalays in the area, but also those in public places like metro stations, malls, petrol pumps and hospitals.
Another MoUD official said on condition of anonymity that the facility would be available on Google Maps, and people will be able to search for toilets around them from the app itself. He also said the process for these toilets being listed for the NCR was almost over, and so the toilets for that region would be available on Google Maps within the fortnight.
How will the facility work?
Explaining the procedure, he told IBTimes India: "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', 'swach', 'swachhata', 'shulabh' or 'shauchalay', and Google will point them to the nearest toilets." The search can be similar to how people look for film theatres or restaurants on Google Maps.
But what about dirty toilets, or ones that are closed? The ministry official said: "The system being put in place relies heavily on crowdsourcing, with people's feedback helping fuel it. Therefore, if a person finds that a toilet is not clean, he or she can give it a bad review or rating, the facility for which is available on Google Maps."
When will the whole country get the facility?
While Google Toilet Locator is being piloted in the NCR starting some time in the next fortnight, there is no fixed timeline for when the whole country will get it, said the MoUD official. However, he also told IBTimes India: "Mechanisms are in place for the facility to be scaled up, and for it to reach all the 2,041 urban local bodies (ULBs) of the country."
He went on to add that the feedback from the pilot project would help them expand the programme to other urban areas in India. "We will write to all the ULBs and hold workshops for ULB officials to help them monitor the toilet situation," he said.