Readers who identify with the plight of Piddletrenthide's Mr Smalle-Bladda whose heart-rending tale of shopping misfortune featured in yesterday's post [for those unaware of his situation, suffice it to say that, being fluid-retention-challenged, he has been unable to visit his usual haunts following the closure of so many public facilities] will be delighted to know that there is "a trickle of relief" on the horizon.
Scientists at the Threadbone Computer Science Research and Development Centre [TCSR&DC], Great Heaving, have invented a small downloadable "App" which, properly installed and deployed on any mobile device can locate and help guide afflicted members of the public like Mr Small-Bladda to the nearest functioning public toilet. Further, it will soon be able, via a small purchasable extension, to guarantee safe social distancing inside a public facility thanks to an inbuilt sensor and alarm system. GOOD2GO will be available for download from 5pm this evening shortly after its complex background GIS database goes live.
App developer Professor Orften Kort-Shorte says that GOOD2GO [The Senior Citizen's Contrik-69 Toilet Track and Trace] [original codename DIKi-BlAdA] works by identifying the user's current location, locking on to virtual beacons and sampling data on the whereabouts of functioning facilities. It then utilises a complex "Just-in-Time" algorithm to suggest a suitably-equipped facility within "probable reachable range" [PRr] or more technically ABr [AverageBladderRange]]. "Range" itself can be defined by, and tailored to the needs of, each user according to a simple scale - 10 miles, 5 miles, 2 miles and 1mile [which translates for the non-technical into: "Soon would be nice", "I really need it now" "Christ I'm Desperate" and "Too late"].
"The beauty of the system lies in its heavy but unobtrusive background processing power", says Professor Kort-Short who has worked on the project for more than 2 days. "By detecting a signal beamed from the facility and projecting a user-customisable "circle of trust" around it, the App can help ensure that no one with the foresight to plan ahead need ever get caught short [literally and metaphorically] again. Once inside the facility, the app automatically switches to "In House Mode" and reverses the signal to produce a virtual laser envelope or "No go" Zone around the user warning others not to transgress it. The whole thing is digitally driven with the appropriate fail-safes. The only human input required is that someone has to telephone us to tell us whether a particular toilet is open or not - we rely on App users to keep us up to date".
Recently, Dorset authorities have put a huge emphasis on the development of smart apps which offer "track and trace" capabilities, seeing them as a key to easing lock-down particularly amongst the old and incontinent. Critics say that the argument that such technologies will solve the crisis are flawed and that - rather like those for whom they are intended - "they just don't hold water", However, such doubts were dismissed today by Threadbone scientists who insist that GOOD2GO will revolutionise the outdoor experience of scores of hitherto housebound individuals "with faulty personal plumbing" and could be especially useful to women "who we all know don't have proper taps".
So is it time to bin the incontinence pads and head for the malls? Well not so fast Muriel. Buried deep within the good news is the odd nugget of bad. For example, a recent "road test" of GOOD2GO using a borrowed mobile phone suggests that Mr Smalle-Bladda's woes are certainly far from over. Living as he does in Piddletrenthide he just happens to find himself in the middle of a urinal desert with not a single facility open within at least 2ABr. On the upside, if he decides to move to Yetminster he will have a choice of 7 facilities within 1-2ABr. A once-popular song which "charted" in both the 80s and the 980s famously asked once asked "Should I stay or should I go? Would that it were so simple for Mr Smalle-Bladda who will have to learn to live with the fact that: should he stay he cannot go.