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Google’s launching a toilet-locator tool to combat India’s sanitation problems

 
We all have our own horror stories about rushing to find a public restroom, but in India, it’s more than just locating a toilet — it’s finding one that’s also clean enough to use. Roughly 70 percent of Indian households don’t have access to toilets, which results in a nationwide culture of open defecation and urination. 

To combat this issue, India’s Ministry of Urban Development (MoUD) is partnering with Google to launch a toilet-locator tool on Google Maps to help people find access clean public restrooms, International Business Times India reports. The tool will launch first in the Delhi metropolitan area, and works like searching for nearby restaurants or banks on Google. Users can type in “toilet,” “lavatory,” or Hindi words like “swach” and “shulabh” to see the closest restrooms in the area.
Results will include toilets located in malls, hospitals, and gas stations. MoUD and Google are relying heavily on users to help crowdsource data on whether a public toilet is clean, or notify them if the listed restroom is permanently closed.

The pilot project is expected to go live in Delhi before the end of November, with no timeline on when it will expand to other cities. MoUD is hoping to first get feedback from users in the metro area before scaling up.

In addition to access, critics are also calling for better education on sanitary toilet practices as the country continues to struggle with open defecation and water contamination. The MoUD / Google initiative appears to be pretty local to India — we’ve contacted Google for comment on future expansion and will update if we hear back.

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