Toilet app made by Beijing government is bogged down by errors

Smartphone users are shown nonexistent restrooms and others are led far off the mark, when there are loos close by

PUBLISHED : Friday, 15 August, 2014, 5:33pm
UPDATED : Friday, 15 August, 2014, 6:03pm

A Beijing government app that helps smartphone users find the nearest public toilet was found to be flush with errors, according to tests conducted by the media.

The app, launched in April and developed by the Beijing Municipal Commission of City Administration and Environment, uses GPS (the satellite-enabled Global Positioning System) to display a map with the locations of at least 20 public restrooms closest to the user.

The person must select one location, then shake the phone to make the app show the best route. Like many map applications, it shows the distance and estimated time it will take to get to the destination.

The whole process of finding a loo takes about 10 seconds, The Beijing Daily reported. It is available on both Apple and Android platforms, but the commission had yet to say how many people downloaded the app.

The app’s reach is specific as well – it covers about 8,300 public toilets within the capital’s 5th Ring Road. But the commission said not all the toilets nearby were included in the map.

However, users have complained that there are some toilets showing up on the app but cannot be found in the city.

Others complained that some existing public toilets are not shown at all on the application, The Beijing News said.

The report said there are 40 public toilets near the Beijing Olympic Park, but the app showed none of them – and instead recommended a loo one kilometre away.

The app sometimes had problems locating the user when calculating a destination. The developer said the problem happens mainly when the user accesses the app in indoor areas.

It recommended that users turn the GPS on and to use the app outdoors.

The app was created as a public service in response to feedback that tourists and residents had trouble locating public restrooms.

The commission is trying to locate all the public toilets in the area and would update its database in the future, according to The Beijing News.

In an earlier report, a director at the commission told the Daily that there are more than 20,000 registered public toilets in Beijing.