… The Australian Public Toilet Map
Would you believe I’ve barely ever mentioned the Australian Public Toilet Map www.toiletmap.gov.au, despite it being my secret weapon in presentations about the idea of making a UK map of our public toilets.
It began in the early 2000’s, commissioned by the Department of Health & Ageing as part of their National Continence Management Strategy (the fact that these two things exist is a marvel in itself)
It says: “The National Public Toilet Map (the Toilet Map) shows the location of more than 14,000 public and private public toilet facilities across Australia. Details of toilet facilities can also be found along major travel routes and for shorter journeys as well. Useful information is provided about each toilet, such as location, opening hours, availability of baby change rooms, accessibility for people with disabilities and the details of other nearby toilets.”
I read a report, ‘somewhere on the web’, from about 2005 that assessed the usefulness of the map for people with continence problems.
At that point, with web-only access and incomplete data, the users were pretty scathing!
However, with more development work and a dataset that can be (and is) used by other sites, maps and apps, it certainly looks more like a success.
How do I know?
I need proof, so I emailed them to ask. This is what they said.
Thank you for your enquiry. The National Public Toilet Map is funded by the Australian Government to assist people with incontinence to lead independent lives by providing locations, opening times and disability access information for over 15,000 public toilets across Australia. Access to the Toilet Map is also available via mobile phones and an Apple iPhone application.
The website currently attracts over 100,000 users each month, with peaks in access of 2,000 users in a single day. The Australian Government through an external provider, collects the geospactical location data used in the Toilet Map from more than 1,000 local councils and other organisations.
Updates can be provided either voluntarily via a continuous online service or via a biannual data update collection process. Up to date Toilet Map data is also loaded to www.data.gov.au to support the Government’s Open Access to Public Section Information Principle, thereby facilitating free public access to the data.
Over 70% of toilet displayed our found directly using generic search engines such as Google or Bing. Since 2004 visits to the Toilet Mpa have grown over 700%
Feedback received from users of the Toilet Map is generally positive and the development of the mobile access and iphone application was well received. The Toilet Map has also been successful in meeting the needs of a wider range of users than originally intended, including families and travellers.
I trust the above is of use to your project. Should you have further questions regarding the Toilet Map, please dont hesitate to contact me.
Department of Health & Ageing
What do you think?