Archive for July, 2012

The Great British Public Toilet Map – version 2!

London: City of Toilets

We’ve made a new version of the toilet map!

When I say ‘we’, I mean Neontribe, who did all of the work.

Reasons it is excellent:

It’s much better at telling you where the nearest toilet is, rather than being about council data.

It includes Transport for London data! In response to the London Assembly’s report into public toilets, the Mayor of London promised to publish TfL’s toilets (so that’s tube, overground and bus stations) as open data in Spring 2012. Hundreds more toilets for us to enjoy!

It works really well on smartphones so you can find a loo whilst out and about.

This is because Neontribe made a ‘responsive design’ webpage so that it works well on any device. You’ll see what this means if you fiddle with the size of your browser window – the website adjusts to fit, mimicking the way that it displays on different screen sizes like smartphones and tablets.  If you save a shortcut to it, to your smartphone home screen, you can use it just like an app.

Things in progress:

TfL haven’t actually published their data (but they are working on it!) So we’ve used the toilet data from their 2010 ‘Tube station accessibility data’ as a placeholder. We’ll flick the switch to the new stuff as soon as it’s ready.

It’s still just London. I know, I know. We want to start adding council data from around the country, however due to the fact that they’re all in different formats and to different standards, we’d have to write a different bit of computer code for each and every one (a ‘scraper’). This is inefficient and expensive.

Since this is now a hobby for us, rather than a funded research project, the easiest thing is for me to manually rearrange some of those UK datasets into a standard format for which we already have a scraper (we’re using the one created for the London Assembly report). This does break up the seamlessness of the process, but at least it will show more toilets..

There’s other stuff that we’d like to do too, but since it is a hobby I can’t make any promises.


Is it working?

Since we initially launched the site, we’ve added facilities in Hackney and Hillingdon, the Tube’s toilets, updated Wandsworth’s and still have data to add for Redbridge and Lambeth. About half of London’s councils have received emails from members of the public asking for toilet data, through the website. It still has a button to do this, called ‘nag your council’ :)

It’s also really good for community toilet schemes, which are difficult to publicise (see Lambeth and Wandsworth in SW London). Now that we have TfL data, it shows how other datasets from non-council ‘public’ toilets could be included, like those in train stations or shopping centres.

Save it to your phone and next time you’re in town, give it a go. I’d really like to know what you think!


July 27, 2012 at 3:49 pm 4 comments

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