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more essential services. For example, there are now several apps designed to help smartphone users find a clean, hygienic and accessible public washroom whenever they are out and about. This is particularly useful for those who have a disability or who simply have an aversion to unhygienic surroundings.


The Flush app lists more than a quarter of a million washrooms worldwide and includes details on which facilities are wheelchair- accessible and whether or not there’s a fee. The Toilet Finder app provides information on more than 120,000 public toilets globally and can also be used via an Apple Watch.


And the Great British Toilet Map is a free interactive street map which includes toilets available for use in local businesses as well as those in bus and train stations, shopping centres, libraries, leisure centres and hotels. Members of the public are invited to improve the app at any time by adding new locations or flagging up toilets that have closed.


Meanwhile, a service offered by the Bladder and Bowel Community has just moved to a digital platform. The community issues a ‘Just Can’t Wait’ toilet card for incontinence sufferers to


help them convince businesses that their need for the loo is urgent. The card can now be downloaded on to a smartphone so that users can access their card quickly and discreetly via their mobile.


So, the smartphone is helping to make public washroom visits both less stressful and more convenient. But from the cleaner’s point of view, it’s also making toilets easier to service and maintain.


This can save a great deal of time while also reducing the risk of dispensers being left empty for long periods.


According to online polls, around three-quarters of us now use our smartphones when actually inside the toilet. A survey by cloud service provider MiMedia reveals that we are using our mobiles in the loo to visit social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and Instagram and also to watch the news, buy goods, play games and watch videos.


And of course, being ‘connected’ means we are more likely to react immediately to external influences and share our experiences. Having a phone camera conveniently to hand when visiting the loo enables us to take pictures of impressive washrooms or insalubrious surroundings.


As a result, there are now any number of internet sites and blogs featuring images of the best – and worst – public washrooms. And of course, there are apps that encourage us to share our experiences.


For example, Cleen App enables hygiene-conscious users to review washrooms in public places, restaurants, shopping centres, stadiums and airports. The Toilet Inspector does the same, even including a league table of the top ten UK public washrooms and featuring an image of the current worst toilet on its home page.


Enabling members of the public to name and shame washrooms is empowering us to drive up standards. And data-driven cleaning solutions such as Tork EasyCube are helping to ensure that washrooms in public facilities are kept clean and well-stocked at all times.


Of course, there are downsides to using the smartphone in the washroom. Recent studies have pointed to the fact that most phones now harbour 10 times the number of germs as a toilet seat because they are being handled in the loo. And there is always the risk that we will drop our phone down the toilet.


But even these issues are beginning to be addressed. Washrooms in the arrivals hall at Tokyo’s Narita Airport in Japan provide mini toilet rolls for smartphones to enable washroom visitors to reduce the levels of bacteria on their devices. They even provide instructions on how to clean a phone.


And ‘accessory trays’ are being installed in Japanese service station washrooms where visitors may rest their smartphones and prevent them from being inadvertently flushed.


www.tork.co.uk/easycube


Tork EasyCube allows cleaning teams to remotely monitor washrooms, enabling them to tell via a smartphone or tablet when dispensers are running empty or when a washroom is attracting high traffic.


‘Connected’ washroom dispensers keep staff informed about visitor traffic and dispenser refill levels. Operatives can then head straight to the washroom or cubicle where supplies are running out and replenish them on the spot.


www.tomorrowscleaning.com


Toilet apps can be fun, gimmicky or useful – but they are only part of the story. Smartphones are revolutionising our public washrooms in other ways as well – by enabling visitors to highlight good facilities and name and shame poor ones, and by helping staff improve cleaning efficiency and reduce the risk of run-outs. In other words, they are driving up standards and improving the customer experience everywhere.


www.tork.co.uk TECHNOLOGY | 39


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