Massive demand swamps online census

Or are they just trying to hide something?
Written by Ben King, Contributor

Or are they just trying to hide something?

The first attempt to put census results online has been a victim of its own success as massive demand made the site inaccessible for most of the day. The Public Record Office put the results of the 1901 census online this morning, promising family historians and other interested parties the chance to browse the census returns of their ancestors from a century ago. However, the launch received significant publicity and the site has been unavailable for much of the day, as it struggles to cope with more visitors than the site can handle. A simple message on the site reads: "Due to very heavy demand, this site is temporarily unavailable. Please try later." Census results are regularly made available after a mandatory 100-year delay to protect the confidentiality of the respondents. But this year the Public Record Office teamed up with QinetiQ, (a company formerly part of the government's Defence Evaluation and Research Agency - DERA) to make the information available, in theory at least, online. A spokeswoman for the public record office said that the site was built to accomodate 750,000 concurrent users, but "when such a key site goes live you can't predict how many people will want to use it." The 1891 and 1881 censuses are being scanned in at the moment, and are expected to go live by spring 2003.
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