App-etite: Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation launches app

The not-for-profit is helping people who can't wait with its GPS-enabled bathroom finder.

The Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of Canada (CCFC) has launched the Can’t Wait app for its constituents to help them find public washrooms using GPS on their smartphones.

The app currently features about 800 bathrooms across the country, all of which were checked out by volunteers and interns this past summer.
Though there are no ads on the app at the moment, it is something being considered for the future.

MiC caught up with Jacqueline Waldorf, manager, marketing and communications, CCFC, to learn more about the Can’t Wait app. Among other things, she mentioned the app could also be a boon to parents with small children and senior citizens.

Tell us about your app: what does it do and why did you develop it?

Essentially it’s a bathroom finder, and it works off GPS on the Android and iPhone, so wherever you’re standing, GPS will identify where you are and it’ll show you where the closest public bathrooms are to you. It’ll show you a map and also a list view. The list view can be handy if, for example, of all the places around you, there’s a public library, a rink and a Starbucks, and you happen to want a coffee.

Why was it important for the foundation to do this?

We did a survey of about 1,400 people who have Crohn’s or colitis…and what we found was, for the vast majority of people living with Crohn’s disease or colitis, when they’re sick, bathroom access is a huge issue. Some of them will choose careers where they work from home because they don’t trust they’ll be able to find a bathroom in a hurry. Some people drop out of a career they love because bathroom access is a challenge. Some people don’t take vacations, a lot of people when they’re really sick, just don’t leave the house.

Looking at that, we thought, what’s one way we can support our community and one of the ways is to give them a tool where they can feel a little more confident going out into the world.

Who is your target demographic?
Target market is primarily our constituents, the 200,000-plus people in Canada that are living with Crohn’s or colitis. Choosing to do it this way, as an app, is a reflection that most people are diagnosed with those diseases between the ages of 18 and 35, so that fits with the technology.

Why was this the best way to reach your target audience?
It’s something fun and snappy and a little bit different. The majority of what we do is fund research to find cures for these diseases. It’s not part of our mission and mandate to put supports in place, but this was an opportunity for us to give something to people.

How will the app evolve?
Our biggest hope is that the people who download and use it will input bathrooms, so it’s as robust as it can be. We had a really good group of volunteers and interns who inputted bathrooms over the summer, so we were able to start with a pretty good database, but it’s only as good as what people can input.

The app is free, and is available for the iPhone and Android. There is also a web version at a microsite: