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SMS opens toilet doors in bid to stop vandals

If you find yourself on a motorway in Finland and you're desperate for a whizz, make sure you have your mobile phone on you.

In a bid to curb vandalism in roadside service stations, the Finnish Road Administration has decided to get tough. It has developed a system where you have to send off a text message in order to open the doors to roadside toilets along the Highway 1 motorway in Western Finland.

The system was introduced in January following numerous counts of vandalism, breakages, arson attempts, and thefts in buildings housing public toilets for motorists, Helsingin Sanomat reports.

Open Sesame

To get access to the roadside toilets, you send off an SMS message with the word ‘OPEN’ to the number given on the toilet door. The call is directed to a modem, which then sounds a buzzer. The charge is the same as sending a standard SMS message, and there’s no additional charge to use the toilet.

According to road maintenance expert Juha Mäki, this kind of system is so far only available in the Turku region of Finland. He told Helsingin Sanomat that the SMS system should significantly reduce vandalism problems, especially as the mobile phone numbers will also be saved for a short amount of time by the Road Administration.