Archive for March, 2011

… Open.Up

I wasn’t going to blog about being RUNNER-UP in the TSO OPEN.UP competition.

Then someone said “I hope you’re going to blog about being runner-up in the TSO Open.Up competition”

So I am.

TSO Open.Up was an ideas competition for ideas that use government data.

I was presenting The Great British Public Toilet Map in the hope of getting some much needed money and support.
Read more…


March 25, 2011 at 6:04 pm 5 comments

… Ordnance Survey

I don’t know how actors do it.

Having to play emotional scenes where you cry-on-demand must be incredibly challenging. I don’t know anything that is soooo upsetting that it would squeeze real tears from my eyes just by thinking about it.

That is, until I started looking at Ordnance Survey Licensing Agreements.

(This is a screenshot of Ordnance Survey’s ‘open’ maps for public use. It’s a screenshot because there aren’t simple instructions to embed it in a free WordPress blog. What’s more, the ‘public use’ maps aren’t relevant to this post, and (still) don’t show the public toilets. But it Looks Pretty.)

This trauma began a month ago when, in my innocence, I tried emailing some more ‘open councils’ from the Scoreboard. These new councils had just published a few bits of spending-related data, but no school locations, no library locations, no ‘dataset of the location of the 120 000 lampposts in Lesser Hampton’, and certainly no toilets.

[Context: In order to make The Great British Public Toilet Map I’d like councils to publish information on where their toilets are as ‘Open Data‘, meaning the type of file that anyone can download (‘open’) and that’s compatible with computer-programming (‘data’).

To you and me it would look like this…

OpenData .csv file for (doomed) Manchester Public Toilets

…which might not look that exciting, but magical computer programs could join together all 300-odd local council datasets and display it on one map!

This would make it easier for people to find out where public toilets are (and if they’re open and what facilities are provided) without having to check 300-odd council websites]

So, I asked these new ‘open’ councils if they’d considered publishing open data for public toilets and sent my email to the attention of their web/data enthusiast (who doesn’t have one of those?!)

In return I got lots of replies from very nice GIS managers explaining that this was not possible. Or, more to the point, not legal.


But why?

Click here for more…

March 18, 2011 at 1:05 pm 8 comments

… Broken Locks

About a month ago, a lock on a cubicle door in the Ladies’ at the Royal College of Art (where I work) broke.

The glamorous loos at the RCA (Mens toilets are presumed blue)

The lock didn’t look broken, but when you turned the lever it wasn’t attached to anything. So you either used another cubicle or took your chances, depending on urgency/busyness/whim.

I briefly thought about reporting it.

Or rather, I thought “I expect they know, so I won’t report it…”

A week later it was still broken.

“But the cleaners will have noticed…” I reasoned, “and reported it…”

Then the light went out in the next toilet along, making that unusable (unless you’re even more of a daredevil). Out of 4 cubicles we were now down to 2.

“They’ll have to do something now!” I thought, without reporting either…

Keep reading…

March 17, 2011 at 12:19 pm 5 comments

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