Ever since it introduced Internet users to the search engine, Google has been a pioneering innovator, opening up new tech frontiers and providing the most practical and unexpected solutions to improve lives in ways, big and small.
Today, Google Maps is the most used mapping application, with people across the world using it to get directions, and locate restaurants, petrol pumps, railway stations, ATMs, hospitals and much more. The search giant is soon going to introduce a feature specific to India to help find people the nearest clean toilet.
According to a report in the International Business Times (IBT), Google is working with the Ministry of Urban Development to launch a Google Toilet locator that is integrated into Google Maps. The feature is a part of the Indian government's 'Swacch Bharat' initiative.
The listed toilets would include public toilets, Shulabh Sauchalyas, toilets in malls, metros, railway stations and other such places. Google is in the process of rolling out the feature in the NCR area first.
To use the Toilet Locator, a user will be able to search for phrases such as 'toilet', 'lavatory', 'sulabh', 'sauchalaya' in Google Maps and the nearest locations of these facilities will be displayed. The data will be partly crowd-sourced as well. Users will also be able to give feedback on the actual cleanliness levels of the toilets.
"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," a person familiar with the matter told IBT.
There already are similar apps, aimed at helping people and improving sanitation in the country. Find a toilet app, for instance, uses crowd-sourced data and, with the aid of GPS, provides information about the nearest toilets.