1 February 2011

Policing the internet

I haven't been able to access this new police "crime on your street" website yet. This is hardly surprising, as yet again a site has been launched that has obviously interested the whole web-browsing nation and yet does not have the capacity to cope with demand.

I'd like to know from a techie type - if I can't access the site, does that mean it's down for everyone? Or is there a first come, first served thing going on, whereby a number of people can access the site at once, and the rest have to keep refreshing until they get in?

This probably happened yesterday too as everyone filed their tax returns - certainly the HMRC site has crashed on deadline day before, leaving people willing to pay up on time unable to do so, and presumably appealing against late payment fines afterwards. And try booking concert tickets for a major band, or going to Glastonbury, or acquiring seats for the FA Cup final on the days they go on sale and .... duh, site error. By the time it works again the tickets have gone.

Don't arouse our interest in something major if you haven't the tools to back up the frenzied demand you're going to create. Fortunately, this is not I problem I ever envisage for this blog. I'm stunned you're here at all, to be honest. But thanks.

I'm interested by the official stats for my street, which is why I went to the police site in the first place. But as far as I know, the only crime we have round here is the shoddy way No.9 parks his van.

2 comments:

Five-Centres said...

I dare not even look at my street. I'm sure this sort of thing encourages fear of crime.

james said...

Techie here...

It's possible to ration website use on a first-come first-served basis, but it's technically difficult to do. (Ticketmaster do this quite well, in fact).

It's possible to automatically add more servers when you need them to cope with a spike in traffic (radio websites are interestingly particularly affected by this, since we actually listen and do what the gibbering idiot spoling all the records is telling us to do). Amazon's EC2 ("elastic compute cloud") does exactly this if you write some clever code.

However, mostly, if a website is down for you, it's probably down for everyone else. http://www.downforeveryoneorjustme.com/ is a useful website to check whether it's, um, down for everyone or just you.