Two university students located at Queensland University of Technology created an operationally better performing census website than the Australian government was able to. What’s more impressive is that the duo of students was able to create the website on a budget of just 500 dollars. The budget for the governments website ended up being approximately ten million dollars.
The development of the website occurred during the yearly Code Network Winter hack-a-thon where students are invited to develop and demonstrate the utility of products that they create over the weekend. Generally, hack-a-thons range in experience and utility, but clearly, this event led to a much desired project.
The need for a new website arose when the ABS’ Census site was crashed for a full day as the servers were flooded with millions of individuals filling out the survey that is meant to be taken every year. The official website created by the government was not made to handle such traffic, thus overloading the servers.
The project created by the two students was developed with the intention of avoiding such problems. They incorporated a ‘serverless architecture’, achieved by hosting the site on Amazon servers. This eliminated the potential of a crash due to overloaded servers.
This relatively new technology was denied by the government production team, despite the fact that the system operation staff at Amazon provides top quality service.
As a testament to its ability, the website developed at the hack-a-thon was created with the intention of handling over four million connections per hour. This is four times larger than the original census website, which can only handle at most one million.
A majority of the expenses devoted to the website created by the university students is devoted to the Amazon Server service. The actual production and maintenance of the website cost little to no capital.
The thought process in the minds of the students was that the website and the product did not have to be as needlessly complicated as the product developed by the government. They also had the advantage of bypassing government restrictions that otherwise would have been in place.
This product won first place at the hack-a-thon rightfully for creating a service that vastly outperformed the government competitor currently on the market.