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Last Updated: Monday, 31 October 2005, 14:28 GMT
Computer loos offer convenience
Public toilets (generic)
The system is being used to run 15 public toilets in Pembrokeshire
Public toilets in Pembrokeshire are being remotely controlled to open and close at the click of a mouse using internet technology.

Council staff no longer drive to each toilet to manually unlock and lock the buildings each day.

The system, created by local firm Arbel Electronics, also records how many times each toilet is used.

The council said the pilot scheme at 15 rural and beach locations had cost and environmental benefits.

Keith Elcomb, of Rosebush-based Arbel Electronics, said the machine-to-machine communications were developed primarily for the food and dairy industry - in particular temperature control and monitoring.

If a community wishes to keep its public toilet open for longer for some reason - such as a fete in the summer - we can do so quite easily
Councillor Brian Hall

But it was now using remote controlled operations and data-logging systems for an increasing variety of uses.

"The technology has enormous potential across the board and some very positive environmental advantages."

Council staff manage the toilets using a secure website.


They programme in what time of day they want each building to open and close and every evening data is sent back to show how often each toilet was used.

Cabinet member for environment Brian Hall said the system - now being tested - could be rolled out to all 98 of the authority's public conveniences.

"It enables us to open and close public conveniences at the touch of a button and also allows us to find out how much each public toilet is being used," he said.

"If a community wishes to keep its public toilet open for longer for some reason - such as a fete in the summer - we can do so quite easily and, alternatively, close them a little earlier on dark, winter nights."

He said although staff no longer had to travel to the toilets each day, they would still be regularly cleaned.

And crucially, if someone was inside when the signal to close the toilet was sent - there was a manual opening to override the system so no-one can be locked in.

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