Where’s the loo? Making data on public toilets more widely available
The London Assembly is trying to help improve the quality of data published about public toilets in London, and we would appreciate your help.
Over the past few months the Health and Public Services Committee has been investigating the provision of public toilets http://www.london.gov.uk/assembly_investigation/public-toilets across the capital. We know that many Londoners – especially older people, parents with young children and those with specific health conditions – rely on the provision of quality, accessible public toilets.
We have found there are two principal elements to this issue. The first is the number of toilets available for general public use. We will be publishing our findings on this in May.
Secondly, and just as important if you find yourself in dire need of the loo, is the information published about the location and accessibility of public toilets. Most London boroughs do publish lists and/or maps showing where you can find a toilet in their areas, with some additional information about disabled access, baby changing facilities, and so on. But each borough publishes different types of data in different formats.
There are a number of private and voluntary initiatives to create web-based resources showing public toilet locations, including smartphone applications. These could be very helpful for Londoners, but their effectiveness depends on the quality of the data published by toilet providers.
To that end, we are looking into the possibility of producing a new standard format for open public data about public toilets, which we hope will be adopted by data owners in the future. This would make it easier for people to develop and maintain applications to help people find facilities.
First we need to make sure we have the right format, and that we are asking for all of the necessary data. We have produced a draft table, which you can find, comment on and amend here. Any comments or amendments that will make it more usable and useful will be very welcome. We would particularly welcome comments from data holders, developers and community groups about what data should be published and in what format, and what additional guidelines would be helpful about how to publish the data.
We aim to publish a further version of this in May along with our report, so we would welcome comments by 13 May.
Chairman, Health and Public Services Committee