Snowbound London

The cause of all the trouble (and a little green, as white balance is not my Nokia's strong point)

The cause of all the trouble (and a little green, as white balance is not my Nokia's strong point)

So an overnight flurry of snow has brought one of the world’s great cities to a halt — yet again.

Leaving aside whether the transport network could be better prepared, how have online services coped?

The web site for my local train company, SouthWest Trains, has been offline all morning (it took until 09.30 for them to load a page saying the site was down due to heavy traffic). We’ve not actually seen a train all morning though the site says there’s a “4 hourly service”.

You can’t actually reach the service disruptions page for National Rail at all, at the time of writing.

The BBC’s London web pages also contained very little specific information this morning (old-tech Radio 5 Live was a more useful source). The mobile phone network was overloaded, so no luck there either.

So no chance of making it into London for an 08.30 meeting. Separately, the local authority decided to shut my son’s school but the only way to find out was to walk up there and see the queue of parents and kids heading away from the gates. No information on the Richmond Council web site until mid-morning, well after the school run. Apparently some parents sent emails to some other parents, but that rather falls down if the parent on the list doesn’t have a PDA.

The school website does actually say it’s closed today (though isn’t the council’s site a more obvious place to look?) And couldn’t we make better use of the technology? IM, SMS, Twitter even?

Also how many people are really set up for working from home, with secure VPN access and reliable broadband? It’s not just the major disasters that can catch businesses out.


About stephenpritchard
Freelance journalist specialising in business and technology, based in London (UK).

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