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Seeking Relief Down Under, Via Web 85

HiyaPower writes: "Never let it be said that our friends in Australia are behind the times. According to this Wired article, an Australian company, NGIS, will be putting the first searchable database of the location of Australia's 13,000 public toilets on the Web. I mean there you are, far from civilization with only your trusty portable computer and you gotta go, well now you can. Now if only they could do this for working public phone booths ..." I wonder if there is a public-toilet Web ring? If not, this deserves a place of honor on it, as does the down-to-earth, though I would add to its New York section the very nice restrooms at SIBL.
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Seeking Relief Down Under, Via Web

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  • by laborit ( 90558 ) on Friday November 24, 2000 @12:09AM (#603822) Homepage
    Didn't the recent tragedy in Australia teach us anything about intermixing our vital activities with the internet? Let's just wait until we all need a satellite connection to go to the toilet... and then a misplaced anchor takes out one of the main fiber lines []. Nationwide chaos!

    "Sir, the line's been cut! We're spewing data all over the place."
    "That's not all that's being spewed, Johnson. May God have mercy on us."

    - Michael

    Go ahead, blame me... I voted for Nader!
  • It just goes to prove, that with technology, (like anything else) people often just do things before determining if they should.

    Somehow I doubt there are any hidden benefits to searching for the proper commode. But I imagine the cops walking a beat near their famed opera hall would take a dim view of someone marking their territory. It's not like it's New Jersey after all.

  • I wonder if there is a public-toilet Web ring? If not, this deserves a place of honor on it,

    But wouldn't there be a Web Tidy-Bowl salesman going around to take care of that ring?

  • Imagine you are standing in one or another european capital next to some important monument and, as it frequently seems to happen to tourists, you really need to go.

    There's not a public toilet in sight (especially Rome, Paris and Brussels are notorious for their lack of such facilities)and other factors, such as the lack of bushes and the probable proximity of police officers make it impossible to take the course of action suggested by other posters. So, what are you going to do?

    You whip out your GSM phone with WAP (it seems that, despite it total uselessness, you can't get a decent phone without it these days ..)and you connect to the Searcheable Public Toilet Database!
    Or even better, the mobile phone operator can determine your approximate location from the cell you are in and can tell you about toilets in the neighbourhood when you dial a special number! (Just like Omnitel's 2727 does for information about italian monuments).

    All in all i think this is the type of service that WAP needs in order to espeblish itself as a useful protocol! :)

  • Networking the toilet may sound stupid however...

    Throw in a 15-inch (or bigger) LCD on a swing arm mounted near the thing and make it a web terminal. Run the network right up your pipe (so to speak). Make newspapers rather boring. Could make be interesting playing a network game and web-cams could be good (and bad according to taste).

    Come to think of it you do the sort of thing Peter Hamilton writes about in his Greg Whatshisname books. Tie a fibre to a cockroach, or in our case a cockroach-sized robot and send it up the sewer. In this case we want it to find the nearest place where it can connect the house to the 'net. The local sewerage people couple put their pipes to more use.

    I wouldn't want to be the cable guy trying to fix the lines :)

  • >Considering Australia is 90% desert, I don't >think this quite holds true... what's more, we >don't have miles, we have kilometers(!). ^^^^^^^^^^ Sprung, you're a Yank not an Aussie! 90% desert my arse (yes "arse", not "ass").
    Never try to teach a pig to sing. It wastes your time and annoys the pig.
  • I was just in the trap and the guy in the cubicle next to me used 39 sheets of paper to wipe his arse (I could hear him pulling them out of the dispenser and started counting for some reason)

    I was sitting there thinking "Surely he's finished by now..." and then there would come the sound of another sheet being pulled... amazing.

    What really alarmed me though was the fact that he left without washing his hands. I tried to get finished in time to see who it was but he was gone... like the wind.

    Seems like he needed a searchable database of the locations of the handbasins in the bathroom!!

  • What information should they keep on the toilet:

    • Where it is.
    • Major intersection.
    • Is it working.
    • Expected time to be fixed.
    • Waiting list.
    • Who's in it. (Hmm... Maybe not).
  • I for one, nominate you to be the first "Shit Monkey" we launch into the bowels of all public toilets. We shall insert a big homing device down your throat to shut you up and track your movements through the nations sewage system. This kind of research will be invaluable in establishing our own crapper database, thus allowing us to catch up to those tech sauvy Aussies.
  • MWHAHAHAHAHAHAHA, I love dork/spaz/techy humor. That is the funniest shit I have ever read.

    Now please try to spend a couple hours each day not on the computer and try to interact with other breathing life forms.

  • Or spelling, for that matter?

    All generalizations are false.

  • I hope those toilets run a secure [] capabilites []-b ased system like EROS [] or TUNES []
  • Per your sig = Guns are inanimate objects. They have not, can not and never will do anything on their own. More Guns = Less Crime

    If guns have not, can not, and never will do anything, how then can they equal less crime?

  • The Wired article contains the following sentence:

    "While the company has yet to finalize its tally, it now believes there are as many as 13,000 public toilets in the country, or 4.4 per square mile. "

    Now I do not go and check the maths in every lighthearted news story I read, but at a glance, I could see that this number was very wrong. (Either that or Australia was shrinking rapidly)

    Australia has an area of 7,741,220 Km2
    This is about 2,988,900 square miles.

    We have a population of about 18 Million, which is on average 6 per square mile.

    If we really have 4.4 public toilets per square mile, we would have about 13 million public toilets - almost as many public toilets as people.

    I think somebody lost a decimal place somewhere. If we have 13,000 public toilets, then we have 0.0043 per square mile.

  • It doesn't go directly to Noosa, true (or indeed very far towards Noosa), but when travelling from Melbourne I've always used it before getting onto the Hume Highway... nya
  • Giving a location isn't good enough, you need to give directions. Better yet, tie the database in with something like [], so I know where the damn loo is.
  • Depends on how many conservation officials were around, and whethere there might be one nearby. Bathrooms without walls is what I say, a new revolution in the world of defecation.

  • If the .sig field could be larger, and I had the inclination, it would be more correct if I posted it as -
    "More Citizens Owning Guns = Less Citizens Being Vicitmized by Worthless Scum Criminals"

    In fact, the folks that choose to not own are safer as long as the crooks have to guess who is armed and who is not.

  • Aazz wrote: " to do math(s)?????????? Why is that plyral there?? Maybe we should learn how to do grammarS like you. Never mind the mathS." I don't know why I am even bothering to respond to a feeble pedant, but I hate pedants who are wrong. Newsflash Aazz. The Internet is not America. America is not the Internet. In "American English", people do math, in English people do maths. Language convention varies around the world. Get over it. Some people on Slashdot have poor spelling and/or grammar. Get over it.
  • by matthew_gream ( 113862 ) on Friday November 24, 2000 @12:26AM (#603841) Homepage
    It needs to be WAPable, and then, tied into a location based service, which is plausible with a GSM phone. Then wherever you are, you can find the nearest toilet.

    What would be a more advanced business model, would be then to allow users to rate it according to a number of criteria (with, say, levels 1 to 5), and if they do this, give them a small discount on the WAP access cost - i.e. as an incentive to spending the extra time providing some feedback - then future users can see which toilets are better than others.

  • by matthew_gream ( 113862 ) on Friday November 24, 2000 @12:35AM (#603842) Homepage

    A recent survey in the The Economist on Australia pointed to Australias "sensible" use of technology. What they meant, is that rather than the maniac tech frenzy in the United States, what Australian businesses seemed to do was to adopt technology into existing business practices in a much more sensible way - for instance, a guy in the outback producing some sort of original good just creates a pretty basic by effective web page, information and ordering system.

    A few more facts - Australia has always had the highest penetration of Internet, we have been rapid earlyt adopters of ISDN and mobile phone technology, electronic banking systems (EFTPOS), and there are probably more examples. We're not super-tech-guru people, but we take the new stuff in our stride. As a people, we tend to be pretty fair minded, pragmatic and sensible, but not adverse to "going over the top" at times, and having a good dose of fun. We're somewhat hedonistic and even pagan in our love of food, sun, outdoors and so on.

    (I like my country, can you tell :)

    Matthew Gream
    Australian ex-patriot
    San Sebastian, Spain

  • Just a quick note, but in Australia we use 240 volts mains power - it would make for far more explosive farts.

    DebianPlanet []

  • Step 1 - Find a bush
    Step 2 - Realise that you're hundreds of miles away from anyone
    Step 3 - Sod the bush, just go where you are.

    Australias a big place.
  • This would be great for people who wear [] their computers. This should be done for every urban area.
  • I think a database such as this is an absolute necessity.

    I mean, do you have any idea how hard it is to find a public toilet of respectable quality and cleanliness? In all my years of living in Melbourne, I've only been in one, truly classy public toilet, the rest are abysmall in comparison.

  • I am sorry to given that impression. It was certainly not my intention here. While I have some personal quibbles with the Australian government, the contributions of "you folks down under" are per capital the equal of anyone else in the world.
  • You know this _is_ funny to me but not in the way the author intended.

    Note: my IQ = (10*age) always.
  • Is this the step to the age of OVERinformation? :-)

  • Maybe they should have a hit counter and statics on the toilet, like:

    Your are the: 423,153,957,287 person to use this toilet since 1997.

    This toliet has been cleaned: 4 times since 1997.

    The average usage last is for: 17 seconds.

    9.7% wash their hands when though.

    Sign this toliets guest book!

  • Surely mobile phone users need a WAP version of this site. Or would that be a CWAP version?

  • Well, if they're going to do that, why not just put a dumb terminal in there, put on lynx and have something to do. Or allow advertising to web ads to pay for the toilet.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Dunno about the rest of you Aussies on /., but I am just thrilled to bits at how our country is portrayed to the rest of the world. Truly, to judge from posts like this, we are truly a 'banana republic'.

    Mind you, our population is only about 10% of the USs'...

    To the rest of the world: Yes, we are capable of better stuff than this, but all our best and brightest go overseas for the money. Australia sucks as a place for tech advances and 'innovation'. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise... it's all about sport here. (sigh)

    z_evil1 (frustrated Oz geek)
  • Oh, I forgot to mention - if we could connect the probe to the future e-homes, it could automatically download the amount of poo in your rectum and upload the information to your e-toilet. Then the e-flushing mechanism automatically e-adapts to your e-shit, and uses just enough water to flush down your fecals.

    I am in now way affiliated with, by the way.
  • by Bryan_Crowl ( 87192 ) on Thursday November 23, 2000 @11:19PM (#603855) Homepage
    They have built a ethernet card on to most things these days what i propose is to put on a toilet. just think you could flush it remotely
  • If you really had to go, and you were in the middle of Australia, would you pop out your laptop, find a place, go to the place, and do your business, or would you find some bushes that are far more convienent?
  • Windies all out for 82, and 1/0 in their second innings! (Cricke, for the ignorant)
  • Can you imagine what the SNMP variables for that would look like?

    Can you imagine the results of a DoS attack on the shitters if they were completely remotely driven? (DDoS -- Distributed Disgusting odour (from) Shitters)

    If they do have full networking, how long before jokes about "laying some fat pipe" come into common parlance? (Or "stringing some fiber" or ...)


  • by StandardDeviant ( 122674 ) on Thursday November 23, 2000 @11:24PM (#603859) Homepage Journal

    Well, I say old, it was like 5 years ago at a hellhol-errr-place called TAMS. Anyway, he was really good at math. Really good. So one day he was telling me about this thing called the Steiner Space or something like that (my strong suite is chemistry, not abstract math). And within Steiner Spaces you could find/define something called a Steiner Point (again, it's been ~5 years and I'm not a mathematician), which was the one point in that Steiner Space that would be equidistant to all other (non-capital-S) Steiner Points in that Steiner Space. Seems pretty intuitive in 3space (for a bounded space anyway ("the middle of nowhere")); naturally since mathematicians are all closet perverts, they'd extended this to cover nSpace.

    Point being, we were laughing about the possibility of defining a "UNT-Campus-Shitters" Steiner Space where each non-capital-S Steiner Point was a campus crapper. So then you could use rigorous mathematical methods to find the "Shitter Epicenter" of campus, the point at which if you had to crap you could go in any direction....

    OK, yeah, so when you're IQ is >= (10*age) (sidenote: I was 16, he was 17) and you're stuck in a dorm eating suck-ass food you tend to come up with odd ways to pass the time... ;-)


  • Lends a whole new meaning to ``shit or get off the toilet!'' I don't think you'd have too many poeple sleeping in public restrooms after receiving ~110+ V to the ass...


  • And "wake on can" to zap the guy awake who is making a career out of going to the bathroom.
  • - Sensors to tell when the toilet paper runs out? - A 'Scorpion in the bowl' alert? (yes, I know it's a cliche, but it does happen) - A machine to automatically remove the floaters? - A light indicating the person washed their hands? (a la the simpsons) Oh well, at least I can cheat playing "I spy" on the Nepean Highway going up to Noosa "I spy with my little eye, a something 15km northwest of here in the middle of a park. What is it?"
  • Step one: pick up cellphone

    Step two: dial "information"

    Step three: ask (in a hurried voice) where the nearest toilet is

    Step four: hang up before entering aforesaid toilet

    It's a cellphone/pda market.

  • "But clearly, the initial database opens the door to all kinds of possibilities, much like the initial mapping of the human genome has opened up huge new areas in the realm of biotechnology." If this toilet DB thing develops in the same way the HGP and other genome initiatives have, it's just a matter of time before some patent-squatter patents "an island-based mechanism for instant bowel relief, complete with a method for localizing such a device in the proximity", and then we're REALLY in deep shit.
  • by tagishsimon ( 175038 ) on Thursday November 23, 2000 @11:36PM (#603865) Homepage
    I'd disagree with you, but then I'm on the other side of the world. In UK Information Society circles (aka electronic government), actions in Australia are frequently pointed to as examples of best practise; such things as the multi-lingual dissemination of advice by your social services people, or the developing meta-data standards for legal information on the web.

    Amusing as toilet humour is, the initiative under discussion here is in reality very welcome, and a further example of best practise. Albeit government tends to be a distributed hierarchical kind of an animal, it should be capable of arranging its information asset to that they can be joined together and turned into a resource useful to its citizens. This application achieves that aim. Other governments are doing similar things - such as UK Government's proposed Inforoute []system, which will draw together sources of published government information. My view is that Australia steals a march on the rest of us by providing something of immediate practical use to all of its citizens, where the UK application will be appreciated by a small minority os citizens.

    A final point. The toilet application verges on a mindset which thinks in terms of publishing everything by default, and restricting on a case by case basis. Certainly in the UK, the mindset still seems fixed on restricting by default, and publishing only on a case by case basis.

    Oz may not suck quite as much as you think.

  • by wailingwombat ( 233876 ) on Friday November 24, 2000 @01:10AM (#603866)
    This is a very nice idea, IMHO, and a very practical one, but the thing is, why stop at toilets? Why not have a similar database of grocery shops, hospitals, drugstores and anything else you can think of? I know that in the Us at least, it would be a great idea if somebody could come up with a database of Marsh, Walmart, Cosco and what not...imagine how useful that would be! And I doubt it would be that hard to comppile either. Just my two cents.... On a totally insane note, can you imagine a beowulf cluster of these?:)
  • by Anonymous Coward
    ...if you can do a core dump
  • We have these toilets around the center of Sydney that are self cleaning, and have a sterile female voice in a variety of languages on instructions on how to use it. I guess an olympic spin-off.
    If these are networked to ask for more detergent, paper etc, i'd think twice about using them. I'd hate to be hacked whilst enjoying some timeout, suddenly your all wet from the self cleaning, and the door fly's open to the public outside!

  • Even more devastating: The Denial of Shitting (DoS) Attack!
  • Oz may not suck quite as much as you think.

    yes it does.

    everyday more and more of our inventions and discoveries are heading overseas ( take a look at the recent slashdot article on the wireless chip). The govenment has cut back its spending on R&D support by almost two thirds in the last couple of years.

    Instead of the latest bio and nano technology, cutting edge computer hardware design and the latest in software developments, we get stuck with The Shit Whitepages(tm).

    On the other hand, the chicks here are really good looking and they're really easy aswell...:-)

  • by MouseR ( 3264 ) on Friday November 24, 2000 @05:03AM (#603871) Homepage
    when you're equipped with this []!!

    No more stinking closet-size restrooms. And this one's got shock absorbers AND a radio.

    Karma karma karma karma karmeleon: it comes and goes, it comes and goes.
  • but I scrupulously avoid any article or advertisement that uses the word "relief" - that's the flag that indicates it's usually pretty gross and disgusting.

  • Also found [] via memepool []

  • Which direction does it flush south of the equator? Clockwise or counterclockwise?
  • In Australia we humbly accept ourselves as we are and take pride in our achievements, insignificant as they may seem to the rest of the world. For me the real tragedy is when a country becomes so insecure it feels it must fake a moon landing to impress everybody.
  • A little Kharma whoring forya (well, actually mine's frozen): []
  • "Oh shit...the database is being slashdotted....damnit, I knew I shouldn't
    have eaten that burrito right before travelling...shit shit shit shit shit!"
  • No bloody wonder I could never find a public toilet while living in Australia! 13000 toilets for 17M people spread over that much area? I bet 12994 of those toilets are in Sydney while each of the other capitol cities have 1 each. And I lived in Hervey Bay, Toowoomba and The Gold Coast, non of which are a capitol.

    Oh, wait, make that 12993 in Sydney. I do remember finding a public toilet out in Long Reach.


    Bill - aka taniwha

  • Some public toilets already have phone lines in, apparently they ring up to ask for more toilet paper or something. I have heard several stories of people getting nuisance calls from wrongly programmed toilets.
  • This is very nice to see, but the internet is so dynamic, that it really deserves more then a static listing of toilets. It deserves an to the date listing of what toilets are working.

    Toilets need there own IP addresses so that we can ping them and see if they are up...of course it is sad that Mr. Muuss won't get to see the pingable toilets, but I am sure he would be happy to know how far his "1,000 line hack" has gone.

  • Y-H YS/index_e.htm []

    Make sure to check out the "homosexual scribble" in the "cool graffiti" section.

    All generalizations are false.

  • Will there be keyboards near the saddle, and if so would you dare use one without surgical gloves? That would be the ideal place from which to send Email to friends and family, and think of all the interesting letters that Slashdot would receive?
  • ...try here [].

    If I remember correctly, this guy was a Simpsons animator/artist. He does a different cartoon every day.

    Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity.
  • People will be hired to manage the network...the "restroom location" network.

    "Daddy, when I grow up, I want to be a Restroom Location Network Engineer just like you!"
  • I am sure there are geeky ones like those futuristic toliets in The Sims game [grin]. :)

  • If you've ever been in a foreign city and -really- needed to use the toilets, you'd kill to know where a public toilet is. More so if you'd recently found you were incompatible with the local gut bacteria and had just had a 4 minute alarm. Do you know the etiquette for walking into a restaurant or bar in say Tokyo (chosen as an example 'cos I don't speak Japanese and can't read the signs) and just using the loo, or what the fine is for peeing in the street?

    Well done Oz

  • MWAHAHAHA!! Imagine making MRTG graphs of load average ( EWWWW!!!:) )!

    It'd be fun to administer them with HP-OV :) :) - red shitters means overflow! :) and speaking of which - that'd give a whole new (and messy in the same time) meaning to "buffer overflow" :)
    How about skript-kiddiez - having a "How-To r00t .au t0ilettes" :) and a brand new kick-start to pr0n sitez: "Direct link from your very next shitter"

  • As much as we cajole the Australians for their backwards-looking regulations from time to time, you have to hand it to them: we in the US would've never thought of this innovation in government. (Who can argue that government is no longer relevent with such pioneering efforts in the world around us?) But I (like many of my colleagues) fear that the US (beholden to our written constitution) may be too slow to close the gap in this new "Toilet Race".

    In order to speed the process of toilet locating, every citizen must be equipped with a swallowable camera []. Once all the cameras have been deposited, it will be a simple matter of "looking around" and the project will complete itself. Forty years ago, JFK sacrificed his life to ensure that we would not lose the space race to the Russians. We must not be any less dilligent in our own time.
  • Damn ozzies, always getting those interesting inventions first. I, like everyone else, has had times when I'm trying to find the restroom before all hell breaks loose, and am usually sporting some kind of IP enabled device. Something like this means that I'll always know where the closest can is, instead of simply praying for the best.

    * FLW == Frank Lloyd Wright

  • One has to wonder about the statistics a little bit...

    "Surprisingly, more than 99 percent of the local councils responded. While the company has yet to finalize its tally, it now believes there are as many as 13,000 public toilets in the country, or 4.4 per square mile."

    Considering Australia is 90% desert, I don't think this quite holds true... what's more, we don't have miles, we have kilometers(!).

    A couple of other useful statistics could include:

    - Occupancy rate (% change its occupied when you need to go).

    - Cleanliness factor (Maybe you don't need to go THAT badly after all...)

    - Graffiti rating (how much interesting reading material is provided to pass the time).

    (Hmmm, Does that mean we have to do away with our wonderful "Last Aussie Dunny for 350kms" signs?)

  • > $ touch /dev/anus
    how about "cat mobys-dick | /dev/anus" or "finger @anus" or even worse"fsck /dev/anus" or "mount /dev/anus"? :)

    An how about ripping you a brand new hole?:) like this "mknod /dev/anus0" :) :) :)

    How about ass-igning it to someone else? with "chown luser /dev/anus0"

  • >>>On the other hand, the chicks here are really good looking and they're really easy as well...:-) Sadly a proportion of the men continue to be as repellent as ever...:-}
  • This seems to be a site for council public toilets. Unfortunatly in Sydney at least must council public toilets are dirty, badly maintained and generally more suited to drug use an anonymous gay sex than taking a shit.

    However, as with most places in the world, you can always find a good clean public toilet by walking towards the big golden M sign.
  • I wonder if there is a public-toilet Web ring?

    There used to be, but since they installed Tidy Bowl software on most of the routers, it's much less of a problem.

  • i feel sorry for woman married to those guys that have to plan there overseas trips down to the last minute , in order to see all the sites in short periods of time , becaue now they can have toliets scheduled on there itinarys. 10:00 am see kangaroo's a roo park 10:15 am use toliet (\sydney\roopark.html) 10:20 am catch bus
  • Now if only they could do this for working public phone booths ...
    Uh... if you have internet access, what exactly would you need a public phone booth for? I mean, I barely use my phone anymore, I make calls over the Internet... I dunno, maybe it would be more useful in Australia than here :-)

  • Australia has 7,686,850 sq km (from cia -- can they be trusted?)
    Thats 2967909.4 sq mi (according to units(1))
    so for 13k public toilets that results in
    one for every 228.3 sq miles or 591.3 sq km
    or in the terms they expressed .0016 toilets per sq km.
  • Australia is a world leader in toilet technology. OK maybe some other countries have these as well but when they were first put in we weren't sure whether it was a joke or not. In Canberra we have these automated toilets that do everything. You walk into the little cubical and the automated door closes behind you and some really relaxing elevator music starts up to make the experience all the more plesant. When you are finished you press a button and it dispenses your three squares of toilet paper. You then stick your hands into a hole in the wall and it squirts soap and then water finally blowing hot air to dry them. Then when you open the door it automatically flushes the toilet for you.

    I think this new innovation is a great addition. Now the next time I am drunk and out on the town and I Really need to go, all I need to do is whip out my Palm and mobile phone and it can tell me exactly where the nearest automated toilet is. So much easier than asking someone and trying to make them understand my drunken slur.

    Now the only thing it needs to do is undo my fly and ...

  • "That is the funniest shit I have ever read."

    No pun intended?

  • I can just see it:

    "Tank, I need a toilot, fast!" [while running very fast with a couple of agents trailing closely]

    It was Australia, anyway...
  • by Polo ( 30659 )
    You would have web access, but not a phone?


  • Mildly tangental to the story at, er, hand:

    At the last place I worked, we printed out two signs for the guy's restrooms. The one over the shitter said "Core Dump", the one over the pisser said "Pointer Error, Memory Leak".


  • And if you are out in the middle of nowhere, how would you connect to this network anyway? I suppose PDA's would be fine, but what about people using laptops?

    I wonder if there will be a service charge to use the feature...
  • Why not? :) there's WAP... :) you can take a crap through (on) your mobile-phone (anyways many of them suck! - so that helps) and upload it there! However - it will take ages if you didn't crapped for a long time - because connection is at 9600! :)

    On the other hand - that'd create a new MIME Type lets' say "Content Type: Stream/Piss" or "Content Type: Shit/html" :)

    Internet Exploder would be the first browser that'd have the "Shit powered/compliant(tm)" logo! :)

  • Don't worry mate, it's the same up here in Canada. We should start a toilet database of our own, eh? Kleed

Things equal to nothing else are equal to each other.