In the fall of 2014 I studied abroad in Florence, Italy. During my travels within Italy and the rest of Europe, my friends and I often wandered around in new cities looking for restrooms. Oftentimes, we were in countries where there was a major language barrier and we were unable to ask for directions. After returning home I began to realize that this problem affects people of all ages and demographics, including college students traveling on a budget, parents with young children, or people traveling on their own. It also applies to all unfamiliar settings, whether it’s on a road trip, in an unexplored part of one’s home city, or in a completely new place.
That’s where my venture comes in. A Loo for You! is an iOS application that will provide its users with maps of their location through integrated Google Maps within the app. The maps will appear with display markers that alert users of the nearest usable bathrooms.
The first step to bringing my thought to actuality was to find team members with the skills I was lacking. I was able to find two teammates within the Computer Science department who have some experience in creating apps and are eager to learn more, which seemed appropriate, as this is a learning experience for me as well. My teammates are Katey Loughran ’16 and Maggie Orr ’17.
Although the idea for this application may seem simple, the actual implantation is not. It is not feasible to make maps of the entire world right away, so our test market will be New York. This will be fairly easy as there are maps for thruway rest stops and public restrooms within New York City readily available online. Our job will be to compile them and provide them in a user friendly and interactive format. We have also faced the question of whether it is appropriate to include facilities in places of business, as the bathroom is often for customers only. In the interest of creating a product quickly, we are not doing so for now. However, as our venture grows, this may come into play.
As our team further develops our product, we will include some sort of ranking system for cleanliness and amenities within the bathroom facilities. This would also include whether bathrooms have a fee associated with them, as many European public facilities do. These features will most likely include the participation of users, who can upload new locations and provide feedback.
Emma Loftus is a senior from Rochester, NY. On campus she is involved in a variety of activities such as interning in the office of communications, being an admissions tour guide, serving as the financial vice president of delta delta delta, and participating in the senior class gift committee.