… Local Directgov

November 30, 2011 at 5:00 pm Leave a comment

Local DirectGov, who are a central place that people can go to to search for local (government) services, have made a widget that allows you to ‘locate public toilets’ by typing in a postcode. In return it gives you a link to the council webpage for public toilets for the area that the postcode falls under.

Now, copy and pasting the html for that widget into my blog (post) doesn’t work (though I’m sure the widget does) which is a damn shame as I’m only writing this post as an excuse to try it out. However I don’t know html so beyond copy/paste there’s not much I can do about it.

Here’s a picture of it instead:

If you go to http://mycouncil.direct.gov.uk/index.html you can try the search for other council functions, or if you want to try adding ‘locate toilets’ or something else to your own site, you can try it yourself at http://innovate-apps.direct.gov.uk/widgets/localservices/

In any case, the toilet widget only works for postcodes in… London.

Here’s why.

Local Directgov don’t have the links to all the council webpages for public toilets. They never asked the councils for them and the councils never provided them.

I provided Local Directgov with the links for London Boroughs for this widget because I happened to already have them (though still invested an hour or two rechecking them).

So for the majority of postcodes (i.e. not London), the widget returns something more generic, such as the council contact page (or councils, if the postcode area has both district and county councils)

There are 406 councils responsible for public toilets in the UK. Despite being a Big Society Sympathiser, I’m just not going to look up all those webpages for the fun of it, even though it bugs me that the ability to search for public toilet information has previously been overlooked by the Local Directgov site (if not surprised – public toilets are overlooked by everything else…).

That’s because looking at multiple council websites is a miserable task, and to be honest, it’s not that easy.

If there is a public toilet page, it’s easy to find by searching Public Toilets. Or Public Conveniences.

The pages that you find are of very mixed quality, something I’ve highlighted before.

However sometimes there isn’t a page at all, and proving the absence of something takes a lot longer.

Also, if there isn’t a page, is that because the council don’t have any toilets? In which case it would be helpful to know that.

And what if there’s more than one page? Do I link to the page about public toilets (that might feature the addresses), or the map of local facilities, that features the toilets?  What about the community toilet schemes? These are decisions for the local council web people to make, not me.

So unless you can convince me that it would be useful for me to look up and provide this data, or useful to ‘the general public’, or show me how it could tie in with The Great British Public Toilet Map, it’s not going to happen.

But feel free to have a go.

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Entry filed under: Information Design. Tags: , , .

… User-Centred Design – Urinal Games … Council Websites (London)

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