London Bombings on the BBC Homepage

Martin Belam by Martin Belam, 7 July 2005

A very frustrating day today. I was lucky to be turned away this morning from Walthamstow Central as the emergency spread in London, and so I headed back home. It was the second day in a row that I'd been at home when a major event unfolded on the BBC homepage and I was powerless to help.

The team worked very hard today, and made many iterations of the page. By the end of the day the homepage was carrying emergency travel information, links to the major government and transport agencies involved, as well as the latest news headlines.

BBC Homepage During The Terrorist Attacks On London

It is a cliché that people turn to the BBC in times of crisis and national unity. They certainly hammered our servers yesterday for the news of London's Olympic victory, and today for the less happy news about my home town.

I know there were times today when it was hard to get through to the BBC site, but I also know the frantic work going on behind the scenes to keep things running, and to strip services down to a minimum to get the maximum out of every bit of bandwidth and every scrap of capacity. Our Siemens sysadmins normally only get a mention when something is going wrong, but today they must have put in a Herculean effort to stop the site going into total meltdown. Thanks guys (and girls).

I've made a gallery of 15 of the different ways the homepage appeared to me at home today (I may have missed one or two iterations) - Gallery of different BBC Homepages today.

BBC Homepage During The Terrorist Attacks On London    BBC Homepage During The Terrorist Attacks On London    BBC Homepage During The Terrorist Attacks On London    BBC Homepage During The Terrorist Attacks On London

Flickr also has a London Bomb Blasts Pool, although I see it has now been renamed the "7/7 Community". I suppose every cloud has a silver lining - at least with it being 7/7 we won't have to have a transatlantic argument over which order the numbers go in.

[I think that is meant to be an example of the stoic humour us Londoners are supposed to show in these kind of situations]

4 Comments

7/7 ;)

Echo the thanks to the homepage team today. Well done fellas. And to the rest of my BBC colleagues.
Five Live, bbc.co.uk/news, News 24 that i watched open mouthed with dozens of other suits (who had failed to get to work) in of all places a pub in Haywards Heath, have all done sterling work.

You guys did a fantastic job today. From the co.uk team, to news, to the guys throwing everything at the servers.

I grabbed a shot of our bandwidth use this afternoon. 50,000+ streams and 10gigbits/sec of bandwidth:

http://photos22.flickr.com/24578299_e43c0b8d3f_o.jpg

This is double yesterdays Olympic levels. I think hits were coming in at ~500 per second which is almost 2 million an hour.

I remember when the 'Jerry Springer: The Opera' controversy hit earlier this year I had to completely re-do my back-of-an-envelope sums about the peak load the /complaints site could expect to receive, and cope with, when it launched a couple of weeks later.

I expect to be re-doing a lot of sums about the homepage capacity tomorrow...

I checked out the /news site as soon as I heard about what had happened, and was amazed to find everything still up and running. Amazing work.

I know that no other Western city would be so well prepared, or so calm in the face of real fear. Londoners are a tough bunch. Our thoughts are with you.

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