Bhubaneswar toilets for exclusive public utility would soon be on Google maps

Bhubaneswar: Taking the cleanliness initiative to a step further, the Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation (BMC) in association with Quality Council of India (QCI) will upload the locations and other data of public toilets, so that they would be available for users of Google maps from the first week of December.

The step, to be taken by the civic body will be extremely helpful for the tourists and visitors coming to the city as most of them are using smartphones nowadays. In fact, while currently, the smartphone penetration in India is little more than 33 percent, by 2018 it is likely to touch 36 percent.

An expert from QCI today arrived at BMC office from New Delhi to train the officials of the Swachh Bhubaneswar Abhiyan Cell so that they would get an overall idea of the entire system. However, within three days time, with the help of the local sanitary inspectors, the data would be collected and later given to the QCI expert.

The city-based data would go to Google via the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MoHUA) and QCI is the coordinating agency across the nation for the job. It has so far uploaded the data on accessible public toilets in 45 cities and many cities like Bhubaneswar are under the process to go online with their toilets to be included on the Google map.

While cities like New Delhi, Hyderabad, Mumbai, Chennai, Indore, Bhopal and Visakhapatnam has already included themselves on the Google Toilet Locator application besides 38 others, cities like Guwahati, Bhubaneswar, Nasik, Puducherry, Ludhiana, Bathinda and many more are likely to join very soon. The nation-wide process for the mapping started in May 2017.

How the data would be collected

Explaining the process of collection of grassroots data on completely accessible toilets, Kushal Srivastava from QCI said “as the sanitary inspectors are involved in the ground-level work, we have asked them to load the required data through a mobile application called “Collect’’. This through a database creation system called Bhubaneswar Toilet Locator, would collect various data including ward number, location, category of toilet, address, PIN code, opening and closing time, toilet available for which gender, is there any fee or free for using the facility, photos of the toilets from various angles, inside and outside and approach from the nearby main road etc.

Once uploaded the toilet locator application would have a feedback system, the rating of the respective toilet facility and navigation system directing the user to the door of the nearest toilet. The BMC authorities had to spend Rs. 1.8 lakh for having a service level agreement.

What types of toilets to be included?

Srivastava clarified that while listing the toilets by the sanitary inspectors, only those having complete access for the general public, could feature in the users’ list i.e. toilets in parks, lakes, government buildings, malls, shopping complexes, government hospitals, railway stations, bus terminals, BMC toilets, toilets maintained by Sulabh International and NGOs. On the other hand, toilets of private institutions, offices, private hospitals, hotels, schools and colleges and similar places, where the users are restricted would not be listed.

Currently, the city has more than 150 public, community and hybrid toilets, but many community toilets inside slum colonies and private areas could not be added to this database. So there would be around 110 toilets or less, eligible for the final listing. However, this tentative number might change as the QCI people will re-check, scan and then only, the database would be handed over to MoHUA for use by Google Maps.

However, the QCI expert clarified that the city toilets on Google Maps would be available on the Android operating system only as it is currently been developed looking at the preferences of the maximum users towards the common operating system.

While the civic body is all set to make the presence of their accessible public/community data on the Google Maps, the introduction of Online Toilet Feedback System is currently effectively working in 10 toilets across the city. As per the guidelines issued by the Swachh Bharat Mission, during the Swachh Bharat Survey-2018, cities could score up to 16 marks if both the systems i.e. Toilet Feedback System and Mapping of Toilets on Google Maps are found running in sync.

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