Feeds

UK police crime map website: Who's the victim here?

Do a man dirt, yourself you hurt

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

Analysis Earlier this week the Home Office unveiled its crime-mapping website, which was developed by Leicester-based ad agency Rock Kitchen Harris for £300,000.

Immediately following the site’s launch, Police.uk suffered a serious bout of stage nerves as it wobbled under the demand from UK residents seizing the chance to find out what crime was being committed in their neighbourhoods.

A Home Office spokesman, who didn’t quite grasp what an API was*, told The Register at the time that Police.uk was taking between four and five million hits an hour, hence its inability to keep up with demand. For many, that explanation didn’t square given the hundreds of thousands of pounds pumped into the project. Worse still, the whole thing runs atop an Amazon Web Services EC2 box, which ought to have allowed it to scale, even when fielding millions of hits from street stalkers and property pervs across the land.

As we were quick to report, ahead of the alarmist cries of “website down” from the mainstream press, the site itself offered the first conclusive smack in the face to open source and open standards developers in Blighty, who have largely welcomed the ConDem’s approach to what is seen by many to be a thoroughly sensible panacea for the handling of government data online.

Then step forward one man who grabbed the data and created his very own police crime-spewing stats website in eight hours flat. Software architect Rob West’s Crimesearch.co.uk portal might lack the kind of prettiness, bandwidth or scale that Police.uk supposedly boasts, but it does demonstrate what one bored coder can do in response to a fantastical cash splurge by a government apparently obsessed with keeping costs down.

“At my reckoning and at Home Office rates [£300,000] they should have paid me £37,000 per hour!”, West told us.

He echoed what other developers have been asking about Police.uk since its data release, endorsed by the Information Commissioner’s Office, on Tuesday: why did it have to cost so much?

Sadly, the Home Office hasn’t been willing to provide a comprehensive answer, instead preferring to tell us that it couldn’t say much about the £100,000 backend and £200,000 development costs for “commercial reasons”. But the government’s agenda to be more “transparent” about its data just took a small yet arguably significant blow.

“If the Home Office wanted to keep control of this project and specify the website functionality, all they needed to do was pass this piece of work onto a small web development company, who could have done it for less than a tenth of the price,” opined West. “Then they could have done their own PR. I suppose their issue with a small company is it might be viewed as high risk. ‘Nobody got sacked for buying IBM’ sort of thing.

“Better still if they had released the raw data and let someone pick it up. Yes, they wouldn't be able to specify the functionality, but wouldn't the functionality be defined by evolution? The best functionality would get the most hits, and therefore would survive.

"I am sure there are many developers out there that would do this sort of thing for the good of the community. I know I have banner ads on my website, but believe me they don't generate that much revenue.

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
Britain's housing crisis: What are we going to do about it?
Rent control: Better than bombs at destroying housing
Top beak: UK privacy law may be reconsidered because of social media
Rise of Twitter etc creates 'enormous challenges'
GCHQ protesters stick it to British spooks ... by drinking urine
Activists told NOT to snap pics of staff at the concrete doughnut
What do you mean, I have to POST a PHYSICAL CHEQUE to get my gun licence?
Stop bitching about firearms fees - we need computerisation
Ex US cybersecurity czar guilty in child sex abuse website case
Health and Human Services IT security chief headed online to share vile images
We need less U.S. in our WWW – Euro digital chief Steelie Neelie
EC moves to shift status quo at Internet Governance Forum
Oz biz regulator discovers shared servers in EPIC FACEPALM
'Not aware' that one IP can hold more than one Website
prev story

Whitepapers

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup
IT departments are embracing cloud backup, but there’s a lot you need to know before choosing a service provider. Learn all the critical things you need to know.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Backing up Big Data
Solving backup challenges and “protect everything from everywhere,” as we move into the era of big data management and the adoption of BYOD.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?