Washington Area Cities And Counties Pass Y2K Test (USIS/USIA)

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So, uh... correct me if Im wrong but... Y2K victory is declared based on a simulated test... of emergency services?

Anyone else find this odd?


02 September 1999

Washington Area Cities and Counties Pass Y2K Test

(Participants pushed to breaking point, official says) (710)
By Jim Fuller
USIA Science Writer


Washington -- Officials of local governments in the metropolitan Washington area have declared that their agencies, water authorities and power companies are ready for the new millennium following a day-long test of emergency plans and procedures throughout the region.

The test -- conducted on Sept. 1 -- simulated the transition from Dec. 31 through Jan. 1, 2000, to test the readiness of local cities and counties to deal with unforeseen problems caused by computer failures that could accompany the arrival of the year 2000. The exercise -- which also included the participation of critical utility and transportation authorities -- was sponsored by the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments, an association of 17 local governments surrounding the nation's capital.

Many of the simulated incidents and accidents created for the test had no direct link to computer problems but were designed to reflect the types of things that could make a problematic situation even more chaotic. For example, sub-freezing temperatures and an impending snowstorm were conjured up for the simulation -- the bad weather causing water pipes to burst and electricity to be cut. Along with the computer glitches, a prison riot broke out in county, a potential case of water-supply poisoning challenged authorities in another jurisdiction. Participating officials also dealt with reports of power outages, downed phone lines, malfunctioning traffic signals and trapped subway trains.

"This was not an exercise that was designed to ensure that everyone participating would succeed," Michael Rogers, executive director of the council of governments, said at a press conference following the test. "This was an exercise designed to push people to the breaking point."

Rogers pointed out, however, that the exercise was a "resounding success."

"The response to these incidents was swift and well managed, and I was very pleased with the effectiveness of the communication and coordination efforts," he said. "Our member jurisdictions have been working hard in identifying and fixing computer systems and products that could create problems when the new year arrives."

Rogers said the exercise enabled hundreds of local government officials to test the linkages between and among the participating jurisdictions and central service providers.

"We saw that the planning that has been done to date is very helpful in assuring that emergency services will continue to be available, even if the region does encounter any Y2K-related problems," he said.

Fairfax County Executive Robert O'Neill warned that the biggest problems that might arise on New Year's Eve could be caused by alarmist reports and dire perceptions that fuel unfounded worries.

"If there are momentary power outages...that could very well be due to the predictably high use of power around that time and over-taxed utilities, nothing more," he said. "The key is not to think automatically, 'Y2K.' A lot of what we're doing today relates to how people might react in panic to something they've heard might be happening somewhere else."

Rogers said his main advice to people for Y2K is to be prepared with contingency plans and to use common sense.

"We've all had to go through storms that have shut down part of the community and affected our quality of life," he said. "Even if we were not looking at the potential disruptions from Y2K, we'd still want people to take basic precautions as winter approaches.

"Adding Y2K to the mix emphasizes the need to prepare for emergencies," he added. "Take a look at what you rely upon -- heat, water, electricity, communications and transportation -- and think about how it will affect you if your ability to use any of these elements disappears for a period of time. Then plan accordingly."

Rogers also said it was still not too late for businesses that have not begun preparing for Y2K. "It is still possible to create contingency plans that will be useful in the event of a Y2K emergency," he said. "There is a huge array of resources available if you need help, ranging from your local government to your chambers of commerce to trade associations to expert firms and other businesses, as well as the federal government."

-- Diane J. Squire (sacredspaces@yahoo.com), September 03, 1999


See also...

A Dry Run in the War Rooms

http://www.greenspun.com/bboard/q-and-a-fetch-msg.tcl?msg_id= 001LEc

-- Diane J. Squire (sacredspaces@yahoo.com), September 03, 1999.

Years ago we put in a huge battery backup system, generator and cut-over system in the place I worked at on Wall St. One weekend all the data and tech people had to come in to see how it works. After a couple of hours of fumbling everyone was so confident that we knew how to cut-over eveything because we did simulations.

Two months later we lost power to the whole building. The first shift supervisor went to the power system, threw a bunch of switches and went to the generator got it cut-in and cut-out ConEd.

The whole datacenter went off the batteries and went black. Suddenly everyone was panicking because now they were disoriented because the pattern they followed was supposed to be the right one and looked like what they did in simulation.

Took 15 minutes to figure it out and get things back up but two of the 55 mini-computers died on power up and emergency tech support had to come in an replace parts.

Simulations are not the way to go.

-- hamster (hamster@mycage.com), September 03, 1999.


I guess in any "normal" world the publicized test would seem odd. But we are not dealing with a normal world here, are we? The DeeCee area is so critical to the continued operation of the Federal Govt. that they have to have a successful test. Have to. Regardless. We know quite well that the city itself is not even close to making even mission critical systems ready. But based on the current govt. passion to spin the facts for John Q. Public, what else would we think they would say now?

-- Gordon (gpconnolly@aol.com), September 03, 1999.

This was just the fake electric utility test rehashed for DC area emergency services. Ho hum. All these tests are "resounding successes." No mistakes to learn from? That's all you need to know.

-- Dog Gone (layinglow@rollover.now), September 03, 1999.

Think 60 Minutes will do an update to their May story regarding Washington D.C. and Y2k?

"Forget everything you've heard here regarding our story back in May. New developments regarding this story have arisen regarding blah blah blah, and according to sources, recent testing indicates that Washington D.C. WILL be ready for Y2k."

-- Tim (pixmo@pixelquest.com), September 03, 1999.

this is nothing new. all tests i have seen publicized are really only tests of the contingency plan. to see if once TSHTF they can communicate and try to contain things/respond. has anyone yet conducted a real test of anything publicly other than the communications/contingency plan? don't you think this says something itself? i am at least glad they are doing this. and what is strange is that the federal govt was not involved?

-- tt (cuddluppy@yahoo.com), September 03, 1999.

"...tests of the contingency plan."

That's a good way of putting it.

Why do we still not have "warm fuzzies" about it?



-- Diane J. Squire (sacredspaces@yahoo.com), September 03, 1999.

Yes, I find it odd.

""If there are momentary power outages...that could very well be due to the predictably high use of power around that time and over-taxed utilities, nothing more," he said. "The key is not to think automatically, 'Y2K.' A lot of what we're doing today relates to how people might react in panic to something they've heard might be happening somewhere else.""

High use of power at this time of year? This guy needs to buy a clue.

Play the hand we are dealt, I reckon.

-- Tom Beckner (tbeckner@xout.erols.com), September 03, 1999.

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