A Y2K Yardstick "Because the difficulty is as far flung as the billions of microchips that run everything from farm equipment to VCRs, this is not a challenge that is susceptible to a single government program or an easy fix. It is a complex test that requires us all to work together - every government agency, every university, every hospital, every business, large and small." President Clinton Amid warnings that the nation's electric power grid is at risk for Y2K failures, the North American Electric Reliability Council said it will conduct a comprehensive assessment of the electric power industry's Y2K preparedness. And there are storm warnings that the Y2K impact could be much more severe than a couple of stomach-churning days on Wall Street. "To cripple the technological flow of information throughout the world is to bring it to a virtual standstill,'' Bennett added. * What is your first priority -- yourself, your family, your company, your country, or perhaps some other group or entity? Think of what happens if the following areas go down and stay down for months or even years: banks, railroads, public utilities, telephone lines, military communications, and financial markets. What about Social Security and Medicare? If Social Security and Medicare go down, it will affect millions of people. Yet both programs are at risk. We are fast approaching the point where it will be too late. There is little hard evidence that the current situation will improve fast enough to make a difference. All communities, regardless of size, must examine how to achieve self-sufficient status and make it so. To view the Year 2000 problem simply as a technical matter ignores the cost and implications. Organizations of all sizes can no longer choose to neglect the issue. As we enter the 21st century, meeting the Millennium Challenge is not a choice, but a condition of survival in the digital economy. The Department of Defense, by its own count, has some 2,965 mission-critical systems. All of these will not be fixed until sometime in 2001. This means that during the entire year of 2000, they will be incapable of performing all the functions described in their mission statement. I am sure there are many individuals who are eagerly anticipating the failure of the DOD to perform its duties. A senior executive at BT gave a similar warning about poorer countries, predicting that up to a third of the world could suffer a telephone cut-off unless those countries were given help to test computerised parts of their networks and exchanges. SCALEIMPACT OF YEAR 2000 PROBLEMS WITHIN THE UNITED STATES 0 No real impact 1 Local impact for some enterprises 2 Significant impact for many enterprises 3 Significant market adjustment (20%+ drop); some bankruptcies 4 Economic slowdown; rise in unemployment; isolated social incidents 5 Mild recession; isolated supply/infrastructure problems; runs on banks 6 Strong recession; local social disruptions; many bankruptcies 7 Political crises; regional supply/infrastructure problems and social disruptions 8 Depression; infrastructure crippled; markets collapse; local martial law 9 Supply/infrastructure collapse; widespread social disruptions and martial law 10 Collapse of U.S. government; possible famine By focusing efforts on the
Priority List as proposed
here, there would be the
best chance of safeguarding
all of the following:
Public Health and
Safety Social Stability
Global Stability
Environmental Sustainability
  Microsoft Corp's chief technical officer, Nathan Myhrvold, says regarding Y2K: "It's very hard to tell how bad the situation will be. I'm sure things will break. It's very hard to dispel a nightmare scenario. There are millions of lines of code in every person's life, and some percentage will be affected. The dark-side scenario of airplanes falling out of the sky and bank computers crashing is possible. But it's fundamentally very hard to know whether the impact will be little or big." Complacency is not an option; neither is panic. The window is fast closing, but time and resources are available to insure that your organization stays up and running in the Year 2000. Let's start with the term "survivalist." Think about the literal interpretation of the word: it describes someone who is interested in "survival." Most of us have never thought about this, because our comfortable society made it unnecessary to think about survival on a day-to-day basis. But if you stopped an average person on the street and said, "Excuse me, are you in favor of survival?", the normal answer would be, "Of course! Isn't everyone? Is there something wrong about that? Should I feel guilty?" I recall a Star Trek episode when a computer was in charge of the Starship Enterprise and it was given control of the ship. In the middle, Captain Kirk found that the computer could not be shut down without destroying the ship. He eventually out thought it into collapse, the ship sat nearly dead, but they got out of it. "The concerns have been echoed by the NHS Confederation, which represents health trusts and authorities. It has submitted evidence to the Commons science select committee inquiry into the millennium timebomb, warning the NHS must draw up contingency plans for a utilities breakdown and food shortages which could be caused if computer failure cripples distribution systems. And around the world all the civilised institutions we take for granted could stop working. The power grid of your city or county which takes in too your water supply, no telephones, transportation - all railroad traffic is computed and so is the coal that fires the power plants - the supertankers that ship in oil from the Middle or the Far East, the banking systems everywhere, all government services, health services, hospitals paralysed, police and fire services and all general business activity. But what about embedded systems? Without doubt, this is the area of greatest risk. Nor are there any easy answers. There are billions of them. They're hidden from sight. They may or may not work on the rollover. They may or may not work on restart. They are the Achilles heel of Y2K. Electrical power is the Big One. This is the heart of Western Civilization. If the power generation plants fail because of the effects of the Millennium Bug, it's literally over for the West. We are all hooked up to the system. But no public utility will survive if the power goes down and stays down. No business will survive. It will be a total breakdown. As Roberto Vacca titled his 1973 book, it would mean THE COMING DARK AGE. The Year 2000 computer problem may only be a dress rehearsal for a little-known, larger and more widespread computer glitch that could send all mission-critical systems crashing 40 years from now. Systems using the UNIX operating system are set to fail at approximately 3:15 a.m. universal coordinated time on Jan. 19, 2038. [G8 leadership and UN cooperation will be required in all of these top five priority areas. Non-aggression pacts will be in order, as significant disarming may well be required.] Oil and Gas Pipelines Refineries Power Generation Plants Power Distribution Systems Telecommunications and radio Water Purification Plans Water and Sewage Treatment Plants Off Shore Oil Riggs Tankers Food Availability and Distribution Shelter Rail System Priority Transportation Fuel Supply and Distribution, including stockpiling of meals-ready-to-eat Emergency and Disaster Preparedness and Management Systems, including Readiness of Essential Workers to Serve Maintenance of Health Care Civil Order - Military, National Guard, Police, and Fire and the preparedness and readiness of these and other essential workers to serve Security of penal system and mental institutions Those who have the
following conditions
may be especially at
risk and should take
special precautions:
*Acute or chronic respirator illnesses
* Heart aliments * Unstable or juvenile diabetes * Dependence on tube feeding
* Epilepsy * Tracheotomies * Urinary catheters * Colostomies * Dialysis # dependence