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Posted by: John Brace | 1st February 2011

Millions jam street-level crime map website

Millions jam street-level crime map website

                                          

The government often come under criticism for large amounts of money spent on websites that hardly anyone uses. However the new website for looking at crime statistics on a more local basis has ground to a grinding halt due to demand.

I run a website that has thousands of visitors in an average day. It has no problem keeping up with that kind of load and peaks in demand, despite many of the pages having graphics and being written in PHP. Despite the government spending £300,000 on the website, the main problem seems to be scalability of the database.

Clearly whoever designed the website for them wasn’t thinking of scalability, but instead of doing things cheaply rather than designing it to be robust when lots of of people visited it.

If they’d just designed it in a more logical way, where you choose your area from a drop down list by force area, or like the election maps website there wouldn’t be such problems as it seems the web server’s CPU can’t cope with all the requests. This is one of the downsides to a dynamic rather than static site and sometimes it’s best to run CPU-intensive tools on a separate server and sub domain.

Clearly there have been comments in the IT industry before that (especially under the previous Labour government) that persuading ministers to fork over large sums of money for IT projects and websites was “like taking candy from children”.

Although it is now correctly identifying my force area as Merseyside, no maps (it seems to be using an API and Google Maps) are appearing. Local residents can however view crime statistics for Bidston & St. James on Merseyside Police’s website.

I hope it’ll get sorted out soon as it’s the kind of thing that residents of Bidston & St. James are interested in knowing.


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