Gotta Go in London? Try SatLav

The City of Westminster â€" the London Borough which encompasses the West End Theater District and government buildings such as Parliament â€" launched last week what it described as the first service in the United Kingdom to help people find their nearest public loo using mobile phone location technology.

SatLav is a play on words for the term used in the UK for consumer GPS receivers â€" SatNav â€" and the word lavatory â€" for toilet. But SatLav works by determining the location of the nearest public toilet for a desperate user by triangulation with nearby mobile phone towers.

If nature calls while in London, just send a simple text message â€" “toilet” to 80097 â€" and the SatLav technology provider will do a database search to determine the location of the nearest public toilet â€" much to the relief of the caller.

Gail King, a 26-year-old student, came up with the idea for SatLav while writing her Master’s thesis, “'Public Toilets: A Woman’s Place” and figured “a text service would be really useful for people on the move.” And, ostensibly, who just can’t hold it.

The Westminster cabinet member for street environment said that the SatLav service puts the Borough way ahead of any other local authority in the UK in public lavatory service. Bradley said Westminster already had “an unrivalled, award-winning provision of public toilets” but the “groundbreaking” SatLav initiative “shows we are always looking for new, innovative ways to improve our service.”

This is a government that really cares at the most basic level.