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Google takes on India’s sanitation problems with toilet-finding tool

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Google India Blog
Google wants to help take on India’s sanitation problems, and to do so the company is launching a new toilet-location tool, which is aimed at helping people find clean toilets to use.

The tool helps combat an important issue — we all know the feeling of needing the bathroom but not being near one, but in India it’s more than that — finding a toilet is only half the battle. Finding a clean toilet is the challenge. In fact, around 70 percent of households in India don’t have access to toilets, which ultimately leads to some serious sanitation problems.

The new tool was launched in partnership with India’s Ministry of Urban Development (MoUD), and uses Google Maps to help people locate clean toilets. The tool will be launched in Delhi first, and allows users to search for toilets the same way they would anything else on maps. Just type the word toilet or the Hindi words “swach” or “shulabh,” and you’ll see the results for the nearest restrooms. Those results will include public restrooms at malls, restaurants, and hospitals.

The pilot program will go live on November 15 and run until November 30. There’s no timeline on when it will expand to other cities, however, as the MoUD is hoping to get feedback from users in Delhi before it expands the program. There’s also no word on whether or not the project will eventually be brought to other countries.

Of course, being able to find clean toilets only partly combats the sanitation issue — many are also calling for better education on sanitary toilet practices, especially considering the fact that the country continues to struggle with open defecation and water contamination.

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