San Francisco Busily Bracing For Millennium Migraine : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

San Francisco Busily Bracing For Millennium Migraine

Gee, Koskinen, Y2K just might be a problem. Doncha think its wise to stockpile like the City of San Franciscos considering doing? -- Diane

City busily bracing for millennium migraine

By Rachel Gordon OF THE EXAMINER STAFF Thursday, January 14, 1999 )1999 San Francisco Examiner

Computers being debugged, supplies stockpiled for Y2K

San Francisco officials have been busy reprogramming computers and upgrading equipment to prepare for the Year 2000 computer bug that is expected with the dawning of the new millennium. They're even considering stockpiling medicine for public hospitals and fuel for Muni buses in case the supplies are cut off.

"I'm not saying we won't have problems, but we will have immediate solutions," said Julia Friedlander, acting director of The City's Department of Telecommunications and Information Services. She's spearheading efforts by The City to prepare for the international bug that may affect computer systems that operate everything from elevators to police dispatch.

San Francisco had already allocated $1 million for the current fiscal year to plan for Year 2000 glitches. Wednesday, the Board of Supervisors' Finance Committee pumped another $979,000 into the endeavor.

The extra money is needed to create a Year 2000 project team to provide city departments with technical assistance. Equipment will be monitored and tested to make sure it's up to speed and won't crash when the new year rolls around.

The problem, commonly known as the Y2K bug, stems from software manufacturers' use of only the last two digits to represent years. That could cripple computers after Dec. 31, 1999, because the software won't be able to tell the difference between 1900 and 2000. That could throw systems such as traffic signals, automated fire truck ladders, elevators, sprinklers, bank machines, data processing and air traffic control out of whack.

Y2K "is definitely a real problem," Friedlander said. "What no one knows is how significant it will be."

The City has spent the past several years - and millions of dollars - updating old equipment. Newly acquired equipment must be Year 2000-compliant. San Francisco's planned emergency 911 system, scheduled to go on line in the fall, and the new train control system that operates Muni's underground Metro, are ready for Year 2000, Friedlander said.

Programmers, however, are scrambling to make sure everything else that runs with a date-encoded microchip is rejiggered or replaced. Critical city operations, such as water distribution and hospital equipment, are getting top priority, Friedlander said.

The City is also pressing vendors, such as Muni's diesel fuel suppliers and pharmaceutical companies, to get their act together. City Controller Ed Harrington said The City might make sure extra supplies were on hand, anyway.

Other contingency plans are in the works. City workers, for example, are being trained to operate automated systems manually, and some departments will beef up staffing and cancel vacations around the new year to cope with the potential of crisis. And Harrington, who's on the Y2K trouble-shooting team, already knows where he'll be spending New Year's Eve: in The City's new emergency operations center set to open soon near City Hall. The reason: "Just in case."

[Note: The same emergency operations center where they managed the recent San Francisco Blackout. Made the S.F. Bay Area very Y2K aware.]

-- Diane J. Squire (, January 14, 1999


See also, the Yourdon Thread:

Power OUT In San Francisco 000IIh

Its illustrates why we should prepare for the unknown, even if Y2K is just brownouts and isolated blackouts.


-- Diane J. Squire (, January 14, 1999.

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