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E-petitions crashes on first day as 1,700 users try to access it every minute

Kathleen Hall

The government's e-petition site crashed on its first day, having raised 2,400 petitions.

The site received 1,700 visits per minute and had 14,000 signatures in its first hour. It also saw an influx of people login to register their views on pro- and anti-capital punishment petitions.

E-petitions appeared to be working today, but its homepage still contained the message: "Sorry if you're experiencing problems accessing e-petitions. There is currently a much higher level of demand than we expected."

The site was built using an open source, open standards platform and was developed by the government's "skunkworks" IT team.

"I am sorry to anyone who was unable to access the site during periods of peak demand, the site did not go down at any time but we do need to provide more information to people during times of high load so that no one gets discouraged from using the site," said a blog from Mark O'Neill, CIO at the Department for Culture, Media and Sport and head of the skunkworks programme.

Andreas Edler, managing director of hosting company Hostway, said it was alarming to still see the site buckle under the strain of thousands wanting to register proposals.

"DirectGov really should have predicted the surge of demand the website would experience, as it failed to build in adequate capacity to cope with the excess of visitors. Unless IT teams learn how to cope with launches such as these, through building sufficient capacity and utilising better traffic management, they run the risk of very disgruntled visitors," he said.


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