Together with the Ministry of Urban Development, Google will now allow users to track, rate and review the nearest public toilets.
I cannot even count the number of times I have been in a situation where every inch of my body is bloated with the “nature’s call”, and finding a decently clean toilet around has turned into a complete task. Fortunately, Google is coming up with a brilliant solution to this problem. According to a report, Google will soon be launching a new feature called ‘Toilet Locator’, which will be introduced in collaboration with the Ministry of Urban Development (MoUD). As the name suggests, this will help users track the nearest clean toilet in cities and towns across India.
A report by International Business Times, suggests that this toilet tracking feature will of course work using GPS, and will be available on Google Maps. The feature will first be piloted in the Delhi National Capital Region (NCR) starting sometime within the next 15 days. Between November 16 and November 30, MoUD is celebrating Swachhata Pakhwada or Cleanliness Fortnight.
An MoUD official explained the publication how the feature would work. She said, “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 Petrol stations, ATMs, film theaters or restaurants on Google Maps.
Additionally, since the primary point of the feature is to be able to track a clean toilet, Google and the ministry will be putting a system in place, which would majorly rely on crowdsourcing and the users’ feedback. Therefore, if a person finds that a toilet is not clean, and gives it a bad review, that particular loo will automatically fall under poorly rated lavatories. Essentially this would work like Zomato for restaurant. You search for a place around, check the ratings and reviews, and make your decision. Also, 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.
While Google Toilet Locator is being piloted in the NCR starting sometime in the next fortnight, the MoUD official said that there is no fixed timeline for when the whole country will get it the new feature. However, he told the publication that, “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.”
In a similar effort, to facilitate users in India to track the current biggest necessity, the ATMs, Google recently rolled out a new feature which allows users to find the nearest ATM directly from the Google search. Since the demonetization of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 currency notes in the country announced almost a week ago, queues outside ATMs have just been getting longer. In order to track the nearest ATMs, users can now just go to the Google homepage, where, beneath the search bar, they will see a newly added feature called ‘Find an ATM near you’.
Clicking on the link will direct you to Google Maps. The screen then automatically gets divided into two parts. The left hand side panel will show the ATM name, address and working time of ATM (if available), while the right hand side of the screen will show a map showing all ATMs present around in the closes proximity of a user. Clicking on the ATM name will open Google Maps, which will then show more details about the ATM including direction, location and official website among others.