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PUBLIC TOILET FORUM:- We have Mail: additional thoughts on toilet rating system
Having read the article in the Cleanzine on 2nd July, I would like to build on the letter from Susan Cunningham, based on my many years of buying and sourcing cleaning contracts for large companies. The principles she proposes are sound, particularly in displaying the basic information/standards to reassure facility users.
* Communication is key
In these unprecedented times, people are understandably concerned with the sources of information in order to make informed decisions e.g. going retail shopping or making a leisure trip.
Given the ability of many people to use the Internet via their mobile phones, it would be helpful, nay vital, to have clear information on facilities available in real time (or as near as). The information would need to be current to encourage trust in the system e.g. if a facility had to close temporarily, how would the website/app/portal reflect it?
Since service providers are increasingly using the Internet of Things and mobile/Internet communication to operate, this is a matter of sharing the information they already hold (albeit to ensure compliance with GDPR where relevant).
* Simplicity is key (with complexity supporting it)
Expanding the point above on communication, it would make sense to replicate the good work already done in a similar area - that of food hygiene in restaurants.
The public is used to a 1 - 5 scale for ratings so to help consistency and avoid confusion, I would recommend a similar scale, with 5 being the best.
The content of the high-end scale may be aspirational, not currently available, but a clear direction of positive travel and something to aim for. For example, the differentiator between a level 4 and 5 rating may be the availability of real-time connectivity data to the public.
The complexity comes with the systems operating in the background, churning data, however the experience of the user should be simple e.g. A 'Find my toilet' App.
* Veracity is key
To help the public have confidence in the system, there should be a robust method of checking the efficacy of the cleaning standards. Options include using independent swab testing that could be used for a parallel 'Operational rating'. This would encourage standards to be maintained, support the facility operators being held to account and again allow informed decisions to be made by users. This could mean a low - middle rating facility that is used/cleaned infrequently would nonetheless have a high operational rating indicating standards are maintained.
* Would parallels with other rating systems help develop the industry?
To ensure that there is not necessarily a bias against lower-rated facilities, could we take a reference from the 'Energy Efficiency Rating' system used for houses and commercial properties? This would show the 'as is' and the notional maximum the site could attain. This would ensure that facilities covered by listed status or practical challenges would not be negatively viewed in the eyes of users - the goal would be to achieve the maximum possible. E.g. some facilities buried in the depths of castles or properties with thick walls may make the use of data transmission impractical, but they may be able to change to a 'touchless' hand washing system.
9th July 2020