… more Open Data Councils

June 15, 2011 at 12:17 pm 6 comments

I’ve been doing some housekeeping

Namely making a spreadsheet of all the councils that I’ve contacted to ask if they would be able to make a dataset of info about their public toilets (location, opening hours etc) so that people who wish to make maps and apps to find toilets can make better ones.

I gave myself a fighting chance by only contacting councils that already publish some other free-to-use datasets (‘open data’) on their web pages, based on this list at openlylocal.com.

Anyway, here’s my spreadsheet for anyone into these things.

It’s interesting (no, really) because I included notes about the councils’ responses.

Link to my public toilet open data spreadsheet in Google Docs. 

I’m trying really hard to focus on all the helpful councils that created data or even explained forlornly why they could not. 

And really really hard not to think about the ones that didn’t answer.

So much so I’ve made a pie chart in the hope that it looks a bit better.

I think that looks better.

It’s 50/50 on the answer split, and about a quarter on the Yes to some sort of data.

And I’m sure there are good reasons why I don’t always get a response.

Here a list of reasons that I’ve made up:

  • the only email I could find was a generic ‘contact us’ email address, so it perhaps got forwarded to the wrong person and ultimately lost. *adds DCLG to this category*
  • the only way to contact them was through generic online form – see above
  • council prioritises emails from residents, and mine never got to the top of the list
  • council worker left and email wasn’t passed on to new person
  • council thought they had replied
  • council thought for a long time about how to reply, then left it too long, and are now too embarrassed
  • council are still thinking about how to reply
  • council didn’t see how email was relevant to them, but didn’t want to be rude and tell me that
  • council thought it was a generic email that didn’t deserve a reply, rather than a 20-minute handcrafted labour of love
  • council was offended that I sent them an email addressed to a different council (one time!)
  • council accidently deleted email
  • other

All of which are excellent reasons, and ones that I’m certain have applied to me too, over the years.

So it’s fine, really.



[UPDATE – Someone emailed to ask if I could publish the datasets from the councils that haven’t popped them online.

So here goes…

WordPress doesn’t seem to take .csv, so they’re .xls.

Pendle Borough Council public toilets & baby changing facilities – Separate Excel sheets for public toilets and baby-changing facilites (31-March-2011)

Canterbury City Council – Toilet Opening hours – 3 Excel sheets worth, for your enjoyment. (3-March-2011)

If they don’t work, let me know and I’ll try again.

As it’s not my data, it won’t be maintained and will go quietly out of date.  I’ve given the dates that it was sent to me – it seems safe to assume it was correct at the time.]


Entry filed under: Open Data. Tags: , , .

… Inclusive Design … more from Ordnance Survey

6 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Pete McClymont  |  June 20, 2011 at 8:54 am


    Pleased to announce that North Devon will probably be publishing toilet data very soon.
    In the first instance we’ll be publishing static data of NDC owned/managed/operated loos. We’re looking at options for dynamic data, showing up to date information on – for example – closures, improvements, cleaning.

    In the medium term, we’d like to publish data on toilets that we’ve funded. Longer term, lloking at data for privately owned/managed/operated.

    Our map of all public toilets in the district – currently without associated data – is already available: http://www.northdevon.gov.uk/index/mapping.htm?BLPUC=20&ITEMO=&GC=A

    Pete McClymont
    Web content manager

  • 2. Gail Knight  |  June 20, 2011 at 12:00 pm

    Hi Pete – Fantastic! Any data in the short term is wonderful, and your ambiitious plans for future data, especially to include dynamic data, and privately–owned toilets, is the stuff of dreams.

    Good luck and let me know if there’s anyway that I can help.

    p.s. Your map looks great! So many toilets in North Devon!

  • 3. pubdocsmoderator  |  June 20, 2011 at 1:13 pm

    Gail – hi. Mammoth task if you’re going to cover all UK councils! Have you thought of putting your enquiry as an FOI request? Doesn’t necessarily produce a quick response or any (one of us waited seven months for an FOI reply from part of the civil service). But it sometimes gets someone in a council to put their skates on. Good luck.

    • 4. Gail Knight  |  June 20, 2011 at 1:22 pm

      Hi – Thanks for the comment.

      I think you’re right – whilst it might not get the result I want (i.e. I don’t want a one-off snapshot, or to FOI all the councils every year and copy/paste), it would at least be an efficient way to do a wake-up call to all or some of them to think about who has toilet data, or to create some in the first place, which could then be made open.

      The laborious email approach just seemed more polite :) Thanks again.

  • 5. Things currently floating my boat « Allotment 5½  |  June 20, 2011 at 10:29 pm

    […] public toilet data – I get strange pleasures at work […]

  • […] .. Open Data Councils (Jan 2011) […]


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