Boston's EMS has replaced 25% of BAD embedded chips but no testing! : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

I've been reading the posts here about embedded chips for the last few months and have seen percentages of non-compliant chips in the range of .0001% to 5% or higher.

In today's Boston Herald, the actual number of embedded chips in the police department, fire department and emergency medical services cited as vulnerable to failure was 25%.

The real kicker is that although the money was budgeted for testing the new chips, IT HAS NOT BEEN DONE!


This link takes you to the main page and you have to select "More Local Stories" and scroll down to the story titled "Boston Y2K ready, or not."

I do not know why I can't get the link to go directly to the story!? This link will self destruct shortly. Can anyone post the entire story here?

-- Cant Say (Chicken@NoWay.Com), November 19, 1999


let's try this one beantown ems story, hopefully

-- zog (, November 19, 1999.

[Fair Use Doctrine, For Educational Purposes]

Boston Y2K ready, or not: City says 'critical' services Y2-OK by Steve Marantz

Friday, November 19, 1999

Racing against a Y2K deadline, city officials say they have fixed all ``mission critical'' computer systems in Boston police, fire and emergency medical services cited by a consultant as vulnerable to failure.

All 288 of the embedded chips - one-fourth of all such computer components in Boston emergency systems - referenced in the study are corrected, the city's Y2K chief said yesterday, and administration officials are confident police, fire and medical services will not be disrupted.

But the repairs of the noncompliant and questionable items have not been verified by the consultant, Danvers-based Sumaria Systems, nor by any other outside computer specialists, even though additional money was budgeted.

The Sumaria Systems study in May showed that, among other risks, noncompliant chips could shut down a cell-monitoring system in police stations, hand-held radios used by officers on the streets and e-mail between stations.

``We are 100 percent compliant,'' management informations systems director William Hannon said. ``We have addressed all questionable items and corrected them. . . . We handled the remainder of the work to our satisfaction.''

The absence of independent verification was criticized yesterday by the chairman of the City Council's technology committee.

``Either Sumaria should have been brought back or some other independent consultant should review this,'' said Councilor Charles Yancey. ``There's too much at stake not to have that independent verification.''

The Sumaria report showed that of 1,047 items with embedded chips, 759 were compliant, 33 non-compliant and 255 questionable.

Many of the noncompliant or questionable items would not endanger public safety, but could hinder efficient operation. These involve tracking of police badges, video projection, temperature control, gene-testing, fleet maintenance and tracking of ambulance dispatch.

Other problem chips were found in carbon monoxide monitors in ceilings, portable digital X- Ray imagers and radar used on police boats.

Hannon said Sumaria was hired because of its experience in identifying embedded chips.

``They had more knowledge than our people on where these things are located,'' Hannon said. ``We didn't know where all the embedded chips are on fire trucks or ambulances. They saved us hundreds of hours of staff time identifying these things.''

Said Yancey: ``If they needed a consultant to locate the chips, shouldn't they need one to check the repairs?''

The city budgeted $1 million for Sumaria, but spent just $190,000, Hannon said.

Meanwhile, Hannon said another city agency, the Boston Public Library, is Y2K compliant following a June memo by a library official warning of calamity.

Systems officer Patrick J. Cafferty's memo said the library's noncompliance would ``jeopardize life, safety, health, loss of revenue, legal mandate and business continuity'' in the city and state.

The memo listed noncompliant systems, including environmental control, telephone, PC hardware and software, film booking, administrative, catalogue and bibliographic, and ``Blue Sky,'' a database on special collections. ``We put together a package of repairs for the library,'' Hannon said.

-- yep, (, November 19, 1999.

Re-read the story: roughly 1000 mentioned in the count, and 33 were "bad" - would have specifically and directly failed.

That's almost exactly the 3% that are "expected" to fail - confirming (for this kind of application) that the long-held thumb rule of 2-5% failures are likely is - again - right on target.

Now, the story also claimed that 255 (25%) were questionable: I don't dispute the consultant's opinion about this, but seriously question two things:

1) If anything is "questionable" - then test it thoroughly and resolve the issue. DON'T play with people's lives and safety (this the EMS system!) by either - ignoring the problem, or (worse ?) trying to fix it but not re-testing your changes.

2) If something is "questionable" - then replace it (since it is life-services issue) - then RETEST the system. There is too much cost in simply replaceing everythign that is questionable - because then you have relied entirely on your "assumptions" or the vender reports of what is questionable and what is reliable.

All the while (potentially) ignoring the unexpected problems in hidden areas. Thorough testing is most likely to find those hidden problems. Even partial testing will at least let you know that what you tested is likely to work correctly.

-- Robert A. Cook, PE (Marietta, GA) (, November 20, 1999.

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