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New York City publishes Google Maps layer for public toilets | StateScoop



New York Mayor Eric Adams on Monday unveiled a new initiative designed to improve access to public restrooms that includes a new Google Maps layer that shows the locations of every city-owned public restroom in the five boroughs.

The new Google Maps layer will include restrooms operated by the city parks department, transit agencies, public libraries and those in privately owned public spaces, officials said during a Monday press conference. The effort, called “Ur In Luck,” also includes a plan to build 46 new restrooms and renovate 36 of the city’s approximately 1,000 facilities over the next five years.

“Part of making New York City a more livable city is tackling the little things — the things we don’t think about until we need them,” Adams said in a press release. “Access to public restrooms is high on that list, maybe even number one or two.”

Among the 100 largest cities in the United States, New York in 2019 ranked at No. 93 for number of restrooms per capita, according to the city comptroller’s office.

Officials said the new maps layer, which will be updated biannually, will be promoted via advertisements on informational kiosks, taxi televisions and online, from June to September. They said the dataset for the new map layer will be hosted on the city’s open data portal so that developers can integrate it into their software.

One project that predates New York’s announcement is Got2GoNYC, which in addition to social media accounts with photos and videos of public restrooms, includes a Google map with more than 2,000 restrooms across the city. Its creator, a New Yorker named Teddy Siegel, speaks favorably of the new initiative in the city’s press materials.

“I have learned through my Got2Go community that New York City’s lack of public restrooms is not only a quality of life and public health issue, but it is an equity crisis,” Siegel said in the release. “The city’s action to tackle this pressing issue is a huge step and will improve the lives of all New Yorkers and tourists!”

The city also announced a new “joint taskforce,” headed by Chief Public Realm Officer Ya-Ting Liu, charged with “fast-tracking approvals” for 14 new self-cleaning automatic public toilets on city sidewalks and plazas.

Written by Colin Wood

Colin Wood is the editor in chief of StateScoop and EdScoop. He’s reported on government information technology policy for more than a decade, on topics including cybersecurity, IT governance and public safety.

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