scary gary's getting cocky : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

: (snip) Y2K Compliant Traffic Signals for Columbus, Ohio: Due in November Link: Comment: Now, for those skeptics who kept telling us that "there are no dates in traffic control systems," this story will be hard to swallow. It will taste a lot like crow.

If Columbus has a problem, consider London, Los Angeles, Houston, Tokyo, Chicago, etc., etc.

This is from the COLUMBUS DISPATCH (Aug. 1).

* * * * * * * * * * * *

The caution light is on for Columbus motorists on New Year's Day, given the uncertain readiness of the city's traffic-light computers.

A $575,000 program to replace computers that contain Year 2000 glitches is running behind schedule and will be the last Y2K hurdle for the city this fall.

Still, city officials vow that they can keep the traffic lights operating after Dec. 31 -- as long as the electricity stays on.

The system that controls the city's 860 traffic lights was flagged by consultants as a potential Year 2000 problem in January, and the system remains the city's largest headache, said Peter Anderson, chief technology officer.

The system includes some but not all traffic lights in suburban areas.

Sixty percent of the 860 signals are controlled by two traffic computers, said Steven Jewell, a signals-management engineer in the Public Service Department. One controls about 25 percent of the lights in the system, mostly those outside the central city. This system has been fixed and tested to ensure that it will operate in 2000, he said.

An older computer controls the rest of the 860 signals, including those Downtown. Installed in 1985, that computer is not ready for the new year, he said. CompuTran of Hackensack, N.J., has been hired to replace that computer with Year 2000-compliant equipment, Jewell said.

The new computer is supposed to be ready and tested by November, several months behind schedule.

According to Anderson, CompuTran's original proposal last year would not have ensured reliability after Dec. 31. Jewell said that city purchasing procedures, not CompuTran, were the cause of the delay.

Older computers such as the ones in the traffic-signal system need to be fixed or replaced because they might break down or malfunction after Dec. 31. Older programs represented the year using two digits, and "00'' might be read as 1900 instead of 2000.

If there is a problem, it would be in the computers, not the signals, Jewell said.

Both he and Anderson expressed confidence that the new central-city control system will be ready by November.

"Even if that doesn't get done, the signals are not going to stop operating,'' Jewell said.

If the new computers aren't ready by Jan. 1, one short-term option would be to roll the clock back on the old computer and let it think it's still 1999.

A second option would be to download timing instructions to the cabinets that control each traffic light, essentially abandoning the traffic-flow benefits of central control.

If power failures occur on Jan. 1, the contingency plan would be to station police officers at major intersections, Anderson said.

Division of Police officials said that manpower requirements are being studied for various Year 2000 scenarios. But the assumption is that traffic control would be a low priority if power failures were widespread. . . .

Link: (end snip)

-- zoobie (, August 02, 1999


Oh my Gosh! The traffic lights aren't working. Look! Black helicopters. Military guys's martial law! Get your guns and head for the hills!!!!!

-- Laughin' at U! (, August 02, 1999.

Well, I don't recall Scary Gary ever *not* being cocky, but all that aside, an extended loss of traffic signals (or worse, mixed up traffic signals) in a major metropolitan area could very easily lead to the death of many people. Think of it as road rage with no referees. Then, of course, someone would want to sue. But sorry, as long as the signal was fixed within 90 days, it wasn't our fault so -- neener, neener -- go sue a rock.

Even so, if some non-functional traffic signals is the worst that happens and only a few dozen people die as a result of such gross negligence, we will have gotten off pretty easy, I think.

In the grand scheme of things, it wouldn't compare to a dramatic reduction in oil production but it would definitely be worse than a few non-functional VCRs...

All things in perspective. Say G'night Gary.

-- Arnie Rimmer (, August 02, 1999.

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