The Great British Public Toilet Map was created by Royal College of Art within their largest research centre, The Helen Hamlyn Centre for Design.
It began in 2011 as an output of the TACT3 research project, 'Tackling Ageing Continence through Theory, Tools and Technology', funded by the New Dynamics of Ageing Programme led by the Economic and Social Research Council.
Through ethnographic research with over 100 people and providers, the researchers Jo-Anne Bichard and Gail Knight found there was no single place where people could go to find out about the toilets available to them. When people were managing health conditions that affected their continence, this lack of information had an impact on their quality of life.
A pilot site was launched in 2011 showing around 300 toilets across 6 councils in London, using only open data. Following funding from Nominet Trust (now Social Tech Trust), the website relaunched nationally in 2014 with nearly 10000 toilets using data from the OpenStreetMap project, National Rail Enquiries and information gathered through Freedom of Information requests to nearly 400 local councils.
The project has since received funding from Open Data Institute and private donations. It is still run by Jo-Anne and Gail, in partnership with Neontribe, who have designed and built every version of the website since Day One.