We always love a “we could do it cheaper than the government” yarn, and we know that the complete failure of the census is of great interest to our readers. So the headline “How two Uni Students built a better census site in just 54 hours for $500” sounded like a cracker. So how do Austin Wiltshire and Bernd Harzer claim they have beaten IBM and the ABS at this census game? EFTM reports:

“The traditional approach to designing web services is ‘on-premise’ — this means that somewhere there are a bunch of computers all built to serve up the content — in this case, census forms.  This is what IBM and the ABS did with the actual Census.

“But at the Code Network ‘winter hack-a-thon’ on the weekend, these two smart cookies went for a ‘cloud-first’ design which can quite simply ‘infinitely scale’.

“What this means is, you use a service like AWS (Amazon Web Services) and the software is built to simply grow, as load increases, it re-deploys itself to continually be able to cope with the demand.”

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That’s enough for Ms Tips to understand, because putting everything on the cloud is supposed to fix everything, right? But Ms Tips’ grandpa says if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is, and the two students who took part in the Hackathon say that it would be expensive to protect their site from DDoS attacks, and make no mention of how secure the data entered into the cloud forms would be. We’re not sure where the cost of $500 comes from, but if that’s for 54 hours of work, we are worried that innovation won’t be adding much capital to the economy.

As a Crikey subscriber and someone who began working as a journalist in 1957, I am passionate about the importance of independent media like Crikey. I met a lot of Australians from many walks of life during my career and did my best to share their stories honestly and fairly with their fellow citizens.

And I never forgot how important it is to hold politicians to account. Crikey does that – something that is more important now than ever before in Australia.

North Stradbroke Island, QLD

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