Answering Nature's Call, There's an API for That

Garrett Wilkin
Aug. 31 2011, 01:00PM EDT

When you gotta go, you gotta know: where’s the nearest toilet?  SitOrSquat has been helping answer that question for several years. Now the SitOrSquat API will allow you to interface with the app's extensive database of public restrooms, replete with all kinds of meta data.

As a former office worker and current work-at-homer I have to say that I love having a toilet close at hand all the time.  Who wants to hold it?  Who wants to use some dingy, grimey bathroom that hasn’t been cleaned in ages?  No one!  That’s why this app is genius.  It serves a need that we all have, especially when traveling to an unfamiliar area.

When using the SitOrSquat mobile app, users can access a list of bathrooms sorted by proximity right down to the foot.  Of course, the accuracy of distance calculations is limited by the orientation of cell phone towers and the accuracy of the data when it was entered. Bathrooms can even be filtered based on whether or not the establishment that provides the facility is open for business.  There's no use walking 1,000 feet to use the john only to be denied. Users of the SitOrSquat App also can submit ratings and photos.

Many of these factors are supplied in the JSON response from the SitOrSquat API. The curators of this dataset do seem to be a little unsure of how they want to engage with developers in this beta phase of the API. Automatic developer signup is disabled, for example. However, they're clear about some things they don't want developers to do:

Please don't re-create SitOrSquat; we work really hard to make sure it's the best toilet locator and community out there and we do that be offering services like syndication, so copying it just wouldn't be cool. Please don't cache or save the results in any persistent state. These are real-time APIs only.

Perhaps to keep control of the SitOrSquat community within the flagship app, the API is read-only at this time, so there's no adding new places, ratings or photos via the API. That said, this is a great first effort for a dataset that can be invaluable when you've gotta go while on the go.

Garrett Wilkin

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