The Cowes floating bridge is running so slowly, its tracking system thought it had stopped running entirely.
Last week, the Isle of Wight Council tweeted to say that, despite online Website Floaty Finder reporting the bridge was not working, it was ‘operating as normal’.
Despite Floaty Finder reporting that The Floating Bridge is not working this is completely wrong and the Bridge is operating as normal
— IOW Council Official (@iwight) January 15, 2019
Bridge taking too long to cross
However, Floaty Finder creator, Mike Atkinson, said the Website worked on timers, and if the bridge took longer than 15 minutes to make the crossing, the website assumed the bridge was out of service.
On behalf of floaty finder, can I offer my apologies? Floaty finder said the bridge was out of service as it took the bridge much longer than previously (>15 minutes) to transit east – west. We’ve updated our timers so this won’t happen again – unless the bridge goes even slower
— Mike Atkinson (@wighthatmike) January 15, 2019
According to council timetables, the bridge is supposed to take ten minutes to cross from East Cowes to Cowes, and vice versa.
Why the problem occurred
The Website works off AIS signals — all commercial craft send out a signal every few seconds to show where they are. However, if the signals show the bridge is not crossing quick enough, the Website assumes it has gone out of service.
The timers on the Website have now been updated, to allow 22 minutes to cross the River Medina.
Atkinson: If not careful, we’d end up not much better than council’s Website
Mr Atkinson said:
“We can keep extending the time limit that we use to assume when the bridge is out of service — that’d be easy. But we do want the timer to be sensitive enough to know when there’s a problem.
“We’re at 22.5 minutes at the moment — so the bridge must transit from west to east or east to west in 22.5 minutes or we’ll assume it’s broken again.
“We are trying to strike a balance between being too sensitive, where we falsely report the bridge as out, and not sensitive enough, in which case we’d end up not much better than the council’s Website which just has a static block saying ‘in service’ even when it isn’t.”
The Isle of Wight Council did not respond to a request for comment.
This article is from the BBC’s LDRS (Local Democracy Reporter Service) scheme, which OnTheWight is taking part in. Some alterations by OnTheWight. Ed
Image: © Floaty Finder