We’ve had quite a bit of discussion about the failure to supply toilets on our site and elsewhere. Now there’s movement on using mobiles to help get working toilets in schools and elsewhere.
“It’s something that can have a little more impact than helping someone find the nearest bar or restaurant,” said Gary Gale, director of global community programs in the location and commerce division of Nokia, which works with the company’s mapping technology.
After the event in Washington, the winners of the hackathon are set to travel to Silicon Valley for meetings with venture capitalists and entrepreneurs who are interested in the issue. The World Bank does not plan to invest in the projects, but hopes that others might.
“We would love it if Silicon Valley could take some of these applications and build them into sustainable businesses,” said Chris Vein, chief innovation officer for information and communications technology development at the bank. That way, he added, the projects could create jobs and economic growth, perhaps helping to ease the poverty that underlies poor sanitation.
John Kluge Jr., a New York venture capitalist who is a co-founder of Toilet Hackers, said mobile technology can help, but is “just one part of the equation.” If toilets are to be provided to more of the 2.5 billion people without them, new methods of financing — not just aid — will also be needed.