The Australian Census Should Have Learnt From Video Games

Image: Supplied

Here's a small tip to the Australian Bureau of Statistics. If multinational publishers and developers struggle to handle hundreds of thousands of people hitting their servers all at once, expecting things would be any different when the majority of Australia logs on probably wasn't a great idea.

For those a little who too preoccupied with the launch of No Man's Sky, today was the day Australians were supposed to fill out the national census. The quinquennial event is a mandated count of the population that most people, up until now, have filled out with pen and paper.

Except this year. This time around, the ABS predicted that the majority of Australians would fill out the census online.

That's 6 million households. Around 16 million Australians.

Have a guess what happened.

At the time of writing, the official ABS Census Twitter account has this as its pinned Tweet:

Chris Libreri, head of the Census for the ABS, told that the department's servers were load tested for 150 percent of normal capacity.

"We wouldn’t do it unless we were able to safely do it, we have evolved it and we are confident," he added.

The ABS should have learnt from video games.

Thanks to Gizmodo


    Census is quinquennial, not quadrennial.

    My wife did ours today, She also got offered a job helping people with the Census this year but only received the job offer this afternoon. It appears the entire office is run by incompetent monkeys.

      Makes you feel really safe to be giving them your name and address along with all that data, huh? :(

    I was thinking just this. This is the reason why I got mine done early.

    I don't know what the census is, the first time I heard about it was being sent numbers by my housemate to fill it out while they were away.

    Pokemon Go launched with 3 days of server issues. So did Call of Duty, GTA V and most MMOs to varying extents....

    So I'm not sure Video games have learnt from video games...

      They didn't expect upwards of 15,000,000 simultaneous connections though.... I think the idea is that, had they looked at these game launches, they would have known they were gonna be in trouble.

    As of 11:00PM, the ABS has said that the Census website will remain down until some time tomorrow morning.

    That was done 5 minutes after this article was done.

    Big difference though.

    Games = What? Oh come off the grass, I paid for this bloody product and it's not connecting?

    Census = I can't give away personal details... Nooo...

      You forgot that Census costs you $180 a day in fines.

      Admittedly we have 6 weeks to fill it out, but I only found that out recently.

        they only fine you after someone comes to your door and you flat out refuse to fill it out.

          Going by the letter I got, this information isn't common knowledge.

            Nothing about this census is common knowledge.
            "I don't know what I'm supposed to do" was the biggest comment I heard yesterday.

            Then you have all the conflicting information being circulated around the net and media, it's a freaking mess.

    I already have a ton of issues with the so called census...

    ....imagine my delight when they essentially make it impossible anyway.

    It's like a villain who foils themselves while you stand around clueless

    Last edited 10/08/16 1:50 am

    The quadrennial event

    It's every five years not four, therefore the correct word is quinquennial.

    Moving on, we completed the census yesterday afternoon sometime between 3 and 4pm on the iPad. No problems there at the time. Glad we got it done early.

    Last edited 10/08/16 2:15 am

    ABS's maths don't hold up. They said they tested up to a million users per hour, and that this was 150% of what they expected. Which means they expected 666,666 per hour. Considering 6 million households, and everyone will be expected to lodge in the 3 hours of peak time (6pm to 9pm), the expected load should have been at least 2 million per hour not 666,000 per hour. At 666,000 per hour, ABS was expecting a 9 hour time frame to complete 6 million. Even considering for staggered starts due to timezones, they didn't do their maths.

      This was my thoughts. Also, there is 1 hour during those times that falls into all timezones. Which means you naturally have to assume this would be your peak time. You need to test for your intended peak time (most simultaneous users), which then covers you for everything. Clearly, as usual, the government didnt think it through...

    Should probably update this article. ABS took the site down around 7:30pm because of multiple hacker attempts.

    It just happens that at that time and after is when the majority would have been trying to fill it out.

      By hacker they mean DDoS which we all know aren't hackers and just script kiddies.

        I haven't seen a news report saying one way or the other tbh...not even sure if I could trust mainstream news to report it correctly in the first place.

          Could be government spin to hide the fact that they failed horribly...

            Yeah, I've read a bit more now. Apparently they were prepared for 1million submissions per hour. That would be fine if the 10million expected submissions took place over 10 hours and not in 3-4 hours after dinner which is when the majority would be doing it.

            Hard to tell if there were legitimate DDoS attacks or just incompetence.

    Come on, who didn't expect it to go down last night .... As soon as I got home from work I was on it, did it in about 30 minutes and done (then apparently an hour or two after I finished doing it, the site went down)

    This...and they're claiming its hackers...while it may be true it likely would of fallen over anyway.
    I wonder how they could tell it was was foreign their IP? if so wouldnt it make sense to block foreign IP's for an australian census (true some VPN users may get impacted but anyone with a vpn should bele to disable it and/or use paper.

    pfft they basically boasted that a) the site won't go down and b) they won't ever be compromised

    if there's one thing the online community is ever good at, it's to sink such claims

    The thing they should have learnt from video games is that if you make ignorant claims about how safe people's data is and that there's no way it can be hacked then people are going to do all they can to prove you wrong.

    The census has been incredibly disturbing.

    Not only did they claim that their site (and ONLY their site) going down straight up wasn't happening and blaming local problems, but then when they did bother to acknowledge that it wasn't coping with the load, they blamed a DDoS as hacking.


    The truth SEEMS to be that the incompetent fuckwits in charge thought that a load of one million users per hour on Census night was an acceptable limit, and when more than that tried to do the census at the one time, it failed. Regardless of planning for additional load from DDoS.

    To draw the wrong conclusions from that either means that they're a pack of fucking liars, or incompetent fuckwits who couldn't find their ass with an atlas and both hands. Neither of these indicates that they give a shit about data integrity, security, privacy, or that they have the requisite intelligence to draw meaningful information from the unprecedented amount of personal information they're asking for.

    Last edited 11/08/16 9:51 am

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