Restroom finder: now this is convenience

In June 2017, India’s North Municipal Corporation, Delhi (NMCD) initiated a project, listing all the restroom facilities in the six “zones” that make up the city of Delhi, indicating where public “loos” are located.  The locations of the restrooms can be found by simply doing a search on Google Maps, using a GPS system, or by using the NMCD’s  APP

With nearly 20 million people, it is believed this new technology will be well received, especially because Delhi is already very tech-savvy.  If searching, for instance, using Google Maps in Delhi, all that is required is for the user to type in the road where they are traveling - for instance, Pusan Road, Rohtak Road, or Faiz Road - and the system will find the nearest “loo” in the area.  The same is possible when using a GPS or the APP

The system is now available in just one of Delhi’s six zones and now lists 499 toilet complexes - which can accommodate many people and have multiple toilets, urinals, and sinks - 41 individual women’s restrooms, 1,163 water using urinals, and even notes specifically where 317 waterless urinals are located, for those concerned about the fact that India barely has enough water to meet its daily needs. 

But the system being developed by the NMCD does more than just list toilets and urinals, it allows users to send feedback, notifying NMCD officials of restrooms that need cleaning, repair, or supplies.

This ability to provide feedback about the restrooms is actually considered one of the most essential features of the new system, at least for government officials. According to a senior official from Delhi’s Department of Environment Management,  there are so many public restrooms in the city it is currently almost impossible to check them all on any type of regular basis.

"There could be complexes which are lying in shambles, do not exist anymore, or are poorly maintained by the concessionaire who is supposed to be maintaining them.  [By using the new app] we will be able to find and fix these problems.”

It does not appear at this time that Google Maps offers such information in the Chicago area.  A quick search asking for the “nearest toilet near me” mainly resulted in a list of restroom supply houses.

However, for some reason, conducting another search asking “nearest waterless urinal near me” did produce specific results.  According to Google Maps, in the area around 400 North Michigan Avenue:

•    The offices of the Alliance for Water Efficiency was listed as having waterless urinals

•    Northwestern Memorial Hospital apparently has waterless urinals

•    The high-end Langham Chicago hotel has waterless urinals installed

•    And a couple of office complexes in the area also have no-water urinals in men’s restrooms.

While it does appear Google Maps is a bit behind the curve when it comes to finding toilets near me, they are doing a better job for some reason when it comes to waterless urinals.  Most likely it is because these facilities have been marketing the fact that they are environmentally conscious and have installed water efficient restroom fixtures.

But if you still need a toilet in Chicago, there appear to be a couple of apps that provide this information. And just as in Delhi, hopefully, they allow the user to give a little feedback on how these facilities look and if they need attention.