Online registration for Fall and Winter City programs began this past Monday and Wednesday with the process opening up to residents at 9:00 p.m. on both evenings. My office received some comments from residents that it was difficult to get through to the server and complete the registration as well as asking why the process was so late in the evening.
In the past, the City has opened up registration at midnight on the day of registration. This meant that if someone wanted to secure a specific program at a favorite location, they would have to stay up until midnight to try and secure the spot. Complaints about how late people had to stay up led to Council asking staff to look at opening the on-line registration earlier. Initially this time was moved back to 10:00pm and then two years ago to 9:00 pm.
At the opening of registrations this week at 9:00 pm, approximately 5,000 clients were trying to access the system at the same time. City servers currently have a capacity of 450 concurrent users, with each user spending five to 10 minutes completing a transaction before they sign off and free a spot. With this volume, servers are at capacity until about 11:00pm. After this, the peak period passed and there was improved availability almost immediately. By 11:15pm on Monday, concurrent users dropped from 450 at 11:00 pm to 210. By 11:00p.m. 7,395 clients had registered into programs.
Almost every municipality faces this peak volume challenge. The City’s system is designed to handle everyday capacity for registrations, but cannot handle the peak volume of opening night registrations. In the past, the City has investigated adding server capacity to better meet this challenge, but the cost was over $1 million. It is not reasonable to expend this amount of funds to install capacity that would be put to use for two hours for a maximum of four days per year (Aquatic and Land registration nights for Fall/Winter in August and Aquatic and Land registration nights for Spring/Summer in March).
The City is currently working on how to improve the registration service and hopes to have something in place within a year.
The Recreation eGuide and Mon Cyberguide francophone des loisirs for fall and winter programs are now available online at ottawa.ca.
Residents who do not have access to the Internet can visit City facilities or libraries with public Internet access. They can also visit any Client Service Centre or City facility where customer service staff can help with registration. Most community centres provide printed brochures for their local activities.