Archive for October, 2011
Our funding application to continue developing public toilet open data and The Great British Public Toilet Map was rejected by the Economic & Social Research Council (ESRC)
Our research into public toilets was funded by the ESRC. When a research project ends, there is sometimes ‘follow-on funding’ available, in order to develop anything unexpected that has come out of the work (rather than letting all that work go to waste!).
Our proposal for follow-on funding had 3 reviewers.
- One reviewer LOVED it.
- The second thought it ‘extremely worthy‘ , but had trouble understanding what we proposed to do, which is our fault.
- The third thought it ‘extremely important‘, but that local government, or their national bodies like the Local Government Association, should be the ones undertaking this work (and not the ESRC) or at least providing the funding, since public toilets are in their remit.
I could write about the flaws of public consultations, but it’s been brutal enough just to write a response, particularly after reading the unintelligible consultation questions and other people’s intelligent hollistic business-y responses. Indeed I chickened out entirely several times.
However, after banging my head against open data problems for over a year now I think I could claim an ‘informed opinion’, and so I’ve
completely ignored the consultation questions written about what I know.
In the spirit of openness, here it is:
Click to expand…
For 2 years I’ve been researching ways to improve public toilets for older people, as part of the TACT3 project to help older people to manage continence concerns.
This soon became an inclusive design project to improve all publicly accessible toilet provision for people of all ages.
Rather than going down the ‘traditional’ product design route, I took a service design approach – applying the research, process and creativity of a designer to the design of a service.
I did this because:
- It interests me
- there’s no money for redesigning toilets
- Toilets have been redesigned, but people don’t follow the guidance
- Suggesting improvement to a service can have a wider impact, and needn’t cost much at all
- It’s relevant to the biggest providers – local government
- It seemed like the right thing to do
2 things came out of the project: a website called The Great British Public Toilet Map, and a publication called Publicly Accessible Toilets: An Inclusive Design Guide, which was actually funded by the ESRC Connected Communities programme as part of our 6-month concurrent research project called RATs – Robust Accessible Toilets – looking at conflicts between ‘Design out Crime’ guidance and Inclusive Design.