We all do it. It’s not cool, it’s not clever, and it’s rarely sexy, but we all do it nonetheless. And if there’s ever a moment when we really want to do it, but we don’t know a suitable nearby place for doing it, then the feasibility of doing it becomes a distractingly important consideration.
Enough with the prissy allusions – we’re obviously talking about going to the loo, and specifically how to find a suitable toilet in an unfamiliar area. And to that end, a new online service has been launched to help us do just that. Toilet Map, developed by Ian Mansfield (the guy behind IanVisits), aims to provide an up-to-date map of London’s public toilets, with a notable emphasis on convenience (ahem) – the service is accessible from a range of devices, from a standard desktop web browser, to iPhone or Android apps, to ‘standard’ mobile web browsers.
This compatibility could potentially set Toilet Map apart from previous toilet-finder services. Where a handful of other London loo locators have been released over the last couple of years, none seem to offer this level of cross-device support. The Toiluxe app (incorrectly named iLoo by the Evening Standard) provides a useful service, but is only available for iOS devices. Conversely, toiletmap LONDON provides a pretty web interface, but its touted iPhone app is somewhat absurdly “not currently available in the UK [iTunes] Store”. Handy.
From a quick browse around the Toilet Map website, it’s clear that some thought and effort has gone into this service. Toilets can be filtered by cost (free or non-free), gender-specificity, disabled accessibility and, rather usefully, whether or not they are “open right now”. Ian claims to have personally verified many of the locations – a non-trivial and probably unenviable task.
Inevitably, the popularity of any restroom-revealer service will depend on how reliable, accurate and comprehensive it is. No-one wants to be given a bum steer (sorry) when they’re busting for a pee, and purchasers of the smartphone apps will be angered if they find that they’ve pissed their money away (yes, yes) on an app that doesn’t pass muster in their time of need. Ian pledges to update the data regularly based on his own travels and additions or corrections from users, so there’s a hope that the service will remain fresher than many of the facilities it describes.