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SMS opens doors to toilets in some rest areas along Highway 1 in Western Finland

Novel method seen as a means of combating vandalism

SMS opens doors to toilets in some rest areas  along Highway 1 in Western Finland
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As a result of continued and endemic vandalism, the Finnish Road Administration has developed a system which allows travellers to open the doors to roadside toilets only by sending a SMS message to the number given by the Road Administration.
The new system was introduced in January in the rest areas along Highway 1 in Paimio and Salo near Turku, following numerous breakages, arson attempts, and thefts in the buildings housing public conveniences for motorists.
      In the rest areas of Pitkäporras (Paimio) and Haukkala (Salo), the toilets are located in neat blueish-grey maintenance buildings on both sides of the motorway. In addition to toilets, the buildings also provide showers and a place for disposing garbage.
The idea for the SMS lock system was created in the Turku Region of the Finnish Road Administration. According to road maintenance expert Juha Mäki, this kind of system is not available anywhere else in Finland, nor in any other country across the world, as far anybody knows.
      In order to prevent further damage to the facilities, a number of ideas were discussed, including the closing down of the toilets entirely or bringing in camera surveillance.
      There are instructions on the doors to toilets and shower rooms, advising prospective users to send a text message "OPEN" to the number given on the door. The call is directed to a modem, which then sounds a buzzer and opens the door.
The opening of the door costs just the normal SMS rate without any additional charges.
      The traffic centre will save the numbers of the callers for a while, but not permanently. This should somewhat raise the threshold for vandalism and reduce the damages to public property, as people will know that their phone number is down on record if they wish to trash the place.
      In Paimio’s Pitkäporras rest area there is also a café. Nina Backman, who serves in the café, reported that last summer the number of visitors to the toilets provided by the Finnish Road Administration was some 500 during one day alone.
      The travellers on long-distance coaches also find the free toilets useful.

  Finnish Road Administration

Helsingin Sanomat

  1.2.2008 - TODAY
 SMS opens doors to toilets in some rest areas along Highway 1 in Western Finland

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