IAS couple create app to locate public toilets near you

How difficult is it to be able to locate a clean public toilet while you're out travelling? Irrespective of being in a city or  a village, the lack of hygienic public toilets is common throughout the country. But fret not, soon there will be an app for it!

In keeping with Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan, the app called Swachh Bharat Toilet Locator is pioneered by an IAS couple, Vipul Ujwal and Sonali Giri from Punjab, according to a report by The Indian Express.  The inspiration behind the innovative app was simple - on a visit to Delhi, Giri was unable to find a single washroom and decided to create something that can avoid such a situation again.

 IAS couple create app to locate public toilets near you

Representational image. PTI

The app is set to have some fairly advanced and helpful features that will provide information whether the toilet Indian or Western-style, free or paid, and whether it has additional features such as seats for the differently abled or the availability of sanitary pad dispensers, continues the report.

It also has a interface where user can rate public restrooms on hygiene, infrastructure and safety. The app will be launched soon by the Ministry of Urban Development (MoUD).

This isn't the first time that Ujwal and Giri have come up with a unique initiative. The 37-year-old municipal commissioner of Moga, with his wife, who is an additional district commissioner in Faridkot, are also credited with the i-vote app.

Launched during the 2014 General Elections in Punjab, the app had several features such as directions to the one’s polling booth, information about contesting candidates, a comprehensive model code of conduct for ready reference and an easy complaint submission mechanism, according to this report by The Pioneer.

Earlier this month,  a similar toilet-tracking app was used for the ongoing Kumbh Mela in Trimbakeshwar and Nashik. Developed by  a Mumbai-based digital marketing agency, the app helped pilgrims to locate nearest public toilets in extremely crowded areas. The user-friendly app --PeeProvider-- developed by Avignyata Inc, will also assist devotees in accessing clean washrooms on busy streets during Kumbh.

While the idea of having a public toilet locator is novel, its success will hinge on its effective implementation. The hygiene data that the app aims to collect, shouldn't be merely collated by the Ministry of Urban Development, but should be acted upon as well.  It's an established fact that majority of the public restrooms in India are not very hygienic, especially outside urban areas and on travel routes. Anybody who has traveled in the interiors of India are aware of the shortage of clean and user-friendly toilets. Even in cities, the most user-friendly restrooms can be found within private establishments like malls and eateries. In such a case, the app will need to focus on more than tracking public toilets, it will have to also steadily work towards making them more hygienic and accessible.

The building of toilets is a major factor of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan, with the government building around 7.1 lakh toilets in January 2015.

We hope that this branch of Modi's Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan gains momentum and brings about change with this app, as clean public toilets should be considered one of the most important rights of citizens.

(With agency inputs)

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Updated Date: Jul 27, 2015 18:01:02 IST