London emergency services hit by BT cable damage

Emergency services and transport control centres in London were taken offline on Saturday after a contractor dug through a crucial BT line.

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Emergency services and transport control centres in London were taken offline on Saturday after a contractor dug through a crucial BT line.

Third party contractors, working on an Olympic venue, accidentally dug through the line on Saturday afternoon, disabling the principal data route to emergency control centres and to the Transport for London control room, it is understood. Thousands of connections across London are still affected, two days later, but BT said the worst effects were in the east London boroughs of Stratford and Ilford borough.

A BT spokesperson refused to name the third party contractor or give specific details on what happened “for security reasons”.

The Transport for London control room lost connections to many major roads across London. A spokesperson told Computerworld UK that this led to serious traffic jams because the control rooms could no longer adjust traffic lights to suit changing traffic levels.

Transport for London still has no link between its control centre and the locations affected, the TfL spokesperson said. This is likely to mean further serious traffic jams, as connections are damaged “across central London”.

But the emergency services reported no loss of connection on their lines, indicating that when the main lines were affected, systems successfully switched over to backup network connections.

“We’ve been working with all the key London services to get them back up quickly,” a BT spokesperson told Computerworld UK. “Most emergency services were back up after a short while.” The spokesperson declined to say how long the systems were affected for.

Around 70 percent of connections affected are now working, but thousands of home users in east London are still affected. But other parts of London are also struggling - TfL’s control room is located in Victoria.

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