Y2K - Mission impossible?

October 99 News & Events

Y2K, and the possible impact it may have on every aspect of our lives, is a hot topic. Local task forces have been established, public sector agencies have been set up and independent monitoring teams are conducting surveys.

But the only consensus that anyone has been able to reach is the fact there is no consensus.

This was made clear at a briefing held by the National Year 2000 Decision Support Centre in Sandton late August which saw SA's Y2K readiness come under much debate.

The Y2K Centre brings together all the major players from government/parastatals and industry. Launched in February 1999, SA's Y2K contingency planning covers preparations for possible Y2K-induced failures should compliance not be fully functional in mission-critical systems.

During the briefing, Peter Brookes, a risk analyst for the Y2K Centre, isolated certain issues and commented on the status of the country's contingency plans.

He pointed out that the effective working of all mission-critical facilities was interdependent, and highlighted the following Y2K developments:

p Electricity: The chance of extensive power outages emanating from Y2K is low because critical systems have been corrected and in some cases, tested for compliance. As back-up, several weeks' supply of water and coal is available for electricity generation.

p Telecommunications: In the event of a power failure, standby generators and fuel stock at all critical sites are present to provide power for telecommunications equipment and air-conditioning plants.

p Health/emergency services/transportation: Because of a high dependency on electricity and telecommunications, contingency plans in these two sectors mirror those of the telecommunications and electricity sector, in addition to provisions for emergency communications such as radio, pagers and installations of direct lines at hospitals.

In the case of emergency services, the South African Police Service and the South African National Defence Force have formed joint initiatives to assist in the event of national crisis.

Brookes said that by publicising the national plan for Y2K contingency planning, it is hoped that companies would have a clearer picture of how to draft their own Y2K contingency plans.

Information on South African readiness can be accessed on the Y2K website, where the International Y2K Co-operation Centre has consolidated all the Y2K readiness reports received from around the nation. Visit www.y2k.org.za and www.iy2kcc.org/CountryWeb.htm

Source: ITWeb for the National Year 2000 Decision Support Centre

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