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How technology is powering sustainable public toilets in Telangana

Hyderabad based Swachh startup, Ixora Corporate Services has introduced Loocafe, Asia’s first free to use luxury public toilets, with a 24/7 cleaning command centre which monitors smell, utilities and footfall using IoT and CCTV surveillance

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Focused on changing the poor perception of Indian public toilets in India, Loocafe is Asia’s first free to use luxury public toilet, powered by technology. The startup was established in 2016. Speaking about his journey Abhishek Nath, Managing Director & CEO, Ixora Corporate Services says, “We started as a team of professionals, who have spent 15-20 years with major corporate houses. We pooled in our strengths to launch this unique venture. We are a no frills workplace with a flat organisational structure. It has been learning for us every single day.”

Abhishek Nath, Managing Director & CEO, Ixora Corporate Services

Today Ixora employees 1000+ people, and innovation and disruption is a part of its inherent culture, points out Nath, adding further, “Our brand Loocafé by far is the best sustainable public toilets concept, implemented in South Asia. We have appreciated by national and state governments.” The concept has also received various innovation awards.

Loocafe works on PPP model and is free to use. “We just request for space and rest is done us. We also pay for all utilities such as water, electricity, etc.,” informs Nath. Currently, it is in collaboration with the Government of Telangana and the British Council. So far more than 17 Loocafes have been installed (in 10 months). The company is in talks with various municipal corporations across the country.

Loocafe has 24/7 India’s first cleaning command centre with state-of-the-art IoT enabled technology which enables complex toilet management sustainable. The Live Toilet Management System includes:

  • Smell indictors: Smell is one of the key issues which most public toilets face and addressing this was imperative. “Today all Loocafes have IoT smell indicators looped back with our centralised cleaning command centre, which is monitored and helps maintain hygiene, cleaning frequency,” explains Nath.
  • Utility mapping: To have a toilet working and hygienic specially in public domain it is important to keep a check on water, electricity, air-condition levels. All key utilities are IoT mapped and connected to the central command centre and constantly monitored.
  • Footfall monitoring.
  • CCTV surveillance : The area constantly monitored, this also help track the teams at site.
  • All shop floor team members, attendance are geo tagged and fenced.

Soon the company will introduce an app, which will enable people to locate toilets and it’s features will be  similar to Uber or Ola. “R&D is a part of our DNA. We also work with various startups in this space to keep pace with the evolving technologies,” says Nath.

“Public toilets are one of the most difficult areas to be maintained. Globally, most toilets get shut in the first six months of operations as there is no clear sustainability plan. Various departments have to liaison amongst each other to get public toilets operational to ensure best hygiene standards. Our tech enabled command centre helps in monitoring hygiene by mapping cleaning standards and frequency,” he states.

Pointing out that training and keeping the teams motivated at all times is also a big challenge, Nath says, “No one wants to be in toilets all day, cleaning, and doing a thankless job. We have a fully equipped training centre which trains and deploys the staff. Each individual goes through a two-day workshop. They are constantly rewarded and given recognition for their exemplary work to keep them motivated.” The teams also go through regular medical checkups to ensure their well being.

According to Nath, they have now started work on police verification for all staff on the ground, along with stronger CCTV surveillance, to ensure safety. “We have been working to tie-up with global partners to enhance hygiene. One such initiative has been a tie-up with Pee Safe to ensure free seat sanitisers in every Loocafé,” he shares.

Nath reminds that public toilet sustainability is the biggest challenge and Loocafe has a unique offering – POS + toilets. “The revenue generated from the POS is used for the Opex and Capex payments, hence this is a truly sustainable concept with a small footprint of 20/8 sq ft,” he adds.

A few innovative features of Loocafe:  A vertical garden; Loocafe Pink (all women public toilets have many features including baby feeding room); disabled friendly; Loocafe Green (coming by March 2020); and Loocafe Gold with next gen architecture and premium facilities.

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