- Title: CHINA: Toilet app brings relief to those caught short in Shanghai
- Date: 8th April 2013
- Summary: SHANGHAI, CHINA (RECENT) (REUTERS) PEOPLE WALKING IN TOURIST AREA 25-YEAR-OLD TOURIST FROM GUANGZHOU ERIC CHEN AND HIS GIRLFRIEND LOOKING AT TOILET APPLICATION ON MOBILE PHONE
- Embargoed: 23rd April 2013 13:00
- Location: China
- Country: China
- Topics: General
- Reuters ID: LVA5F2JO2TGE2A7HETSBJT3ZBUV7
- Story Text: In a country where finding a suitable public restroom is an arduous task, Chinese software developers have created a new application to help bathroom-goers to the closest facility.
The interactive toilet-finding app uses GPS technology to map out public bathrooms, provide information on opening times and even whether there is any toilet paper.
Eric Chen, a 25 year-old tourist from Guangdong says that the toilet app has served as a relief during his visit.
"I think it's not bad. At least, just letting people know that there are public bathrooms nearby you can find them quickly. At least there's an anticipation (for finding one), you know, and it's a sort of psychological relief for yourself," said Chen.
In February this year, China's Ministry of Health released a new standard for public toilets, including a rule stating that public facilities must have no more than three flies per square metre. Nevertheless, toilet cleanliness and availability remains a problem in China, with Shanghai's toilets over the last decades often resembling pits in the ground, many absent flushing systems, doors, let alone toilet paper.
Yang Xingzhong, the director of the Nanjing Aixiyou Internet Technology Firm which developed the app, says it's a modern solution to an age-old problem.
"Actually, when we came up with the idea, it was a real coincidental chance. When we thought about restrooms, modern smart phones have a location based service (finder). So we thought, we can link these together with restrooms and you can accumulate (their locations on an app) it's a very convenient method. So when you (need to use) the restroom, this is an application that will quickly find one," said Yang.
Embarrassing toilet stories are commonplace in local Chinese media. In February Nanfang Daily carried a photograph of a 10-year-old child in the southeastern province of Guangdong using a garbage can as a toilet, and in March local media had a similar picture of a subway passenger leaving feces inside a tube carriage in Beijing.
Pan Wen, a 29 year-old Shanghai resident, says the problem is severe.
"Finding small restrooms downtown is a pretty difficult problem. The biggest reason is probably because their signs aren't clear, and no one can give directions. These are two points. The second point is that a lot of people go to the restroom, this is the second problem. The third problem is, their capacity (for people) is relatively small," said Pan.
Set for official release in May, the trial version of the app has been well-received on Apple's <APPL.O> App Store, where it has five-stars, and has had positive feedback from users.
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