Wednesday, December 15, 2004

The $2.75 flush...of the future!

If you've been downtown (Seattle), specifically to the Pioneer Square area lately, you may have noticed--or even used--a fancy new piece of public technology. No, I'm not talking about the digital parking meters this time. I'm talking about the public toilets...of the future! Since their debut in Seattle last March, apparently the toilets have been a smashing success. With an annual cost of over $600,000 and an average usage of 600 people per day, city residents are paying approximately $2.75 per flush. You can't really get much closer to literally flushing money down the toilet. Are they worth it? Some say so. I suppose I'll reserve my judgment, considering I've neither used one, nor do I pay taxes to support them.

Butt (and I mean that as in my rear), what really interests me about this story is what they don't tell you. How do they know that the toilet is being used 600 times a day? Since I doubt that a city employee sits around watching the toilets and counting the number of people, the most logical assumption is that the toilets themselves are keeping some sort of electronic tally. That being the case, it causes me to wonder... What else are these toilets keeping track of? Do they know how often people leave without washing their hands? Do they have chemical sensors to measure the stink? Perhaps they keep track of the average weight of their users? Who knows! Basically it boils down to: What data is being collected, and how can I have access to it? This is the Information Age, after all. Who wouldn't want detailed public toilet usage statistics at their fingertips?

Who indeed.

Source: Seattle P-I

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