What Columbia University did to prepare for Y2K

greenspun.com : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread


-- Linkmeister (link@librarian.edu), January 21, 2000


[Fair Use: For Educational/Research Purposes Only]

Columbia U. Y2K worries almost over

Updated 12:00 PM ET January 20, 2000

By Felice Bajoras

Columbia Daily Spectator

Columbia U.

(U-WIRE) NEW YORK -- The more than $7 million spent by Columbia University on Y2K preparation left University officials "all dressed up with no place to go," as they spent New Year's Eve on campus to ensure a smooth transition into the new millennium, director of Columbia's Year 2000 Project David Newman said.

Experts predicted the Y2K bug would cause major disruptions in important systems such as those of the banks, the power, and employment and social security records as the world's calendars changed from 1999 to 2000.

In the Jan. 14 issue of The Chronicle of Higher Education, United States Department of Education officials predicted that colleges and universities "would be the least prepared to fight off the Y2K bug."

This assertion sparked a Y2K scare, resulting in the creation of committees and organizations in schools and universities across the nation, including Columbia. According to Columbia's Year 2000 website, the Year 2000 Project Office, which opened in Sept. 1998, provided "additional guidance, tools, and techniques for tasks such as inventories, assessments, testing, and continuity plans."

Newman, who had previously worked on Metlife's Y2K project, said the office included University administrators, outside consultants, and paid Columbia students.

At the office's peak, it employed eight to 10 full-time workers, four of whom remain on staff.

One-hundred and fifty additional staff members and administrators, including security officers and computer technicians, staffed command centers at both the Morningside Heights and Health Sciences campuses.

The team spent the days leading up to the new year readying the website for the changeover, as well as ensuring that the voice mail system would remain functional.

The University recognized the large sum of money being spent, and according to Newman, "had to check the various systems" in response to concerns that the money was a waste.

Paul Straussman, former Defense Department official and chairman of Informative Economics Press in New Canaan, Conn., defended the need for the country's preparation efforts in The Chronicle.

"Y2K defense cost $100 million to fix in the United States, but left colleges, government agencies, and companies in better shape than they ever were before," Straussman said.

Many schools and businesses made necessary changes and updates that had previously been overlooked. The University invested money in fortifying emergency procedures and testing and replacing equipment.

By Dec. 31, the school had prepared itself for the worst, with the primary concern being the safety of the community.

Flashlights and water were distributed to all students remaining in the residence halls. A record was kept of those entering and exiting the dorms, and each student was limited to one guest.

Designated emergency areas were equipped with sufficient back-up power to hold students in case they were unable to stay in their own rooms.

The University also made efforts to guarantee that employees' pay would continue uninterrupted, in the event of a failure in New York's banking systems.

Paychecks for the first few weeks of the new year were kept in safes.

Newman himself was prepared for the worst and carried two cellular phones from separate providers.

As the new year approached and countries around the globe entered the millennium without incident, Newman grew increasingly confident that the night would end without major disruptions.

"We knew the sky wasn't falling because the group of cool people hanging out in Low Library at the stroke of midnight had been watching Peter Jennings for 16 hours--and saw nothing happen anywhere," Newman said.

Workers at the command center set-up on the third floor of Low Library celebrated the smooth changeover by pouring sparkling cider into paper cups.

Newman said that officials will be "sort of walking on eggshells" until the month's end, although the Y2K project will most likely never be completely closed.

Officials recognize that the world is not completely safe from Y2K, and its preparation will be tested further in the coming weeks.

Michael Temmer, head of ACE Video in New York City, recognizes that it remains unclear just how much was prevented by the preliminary measures taken concerning Y2K.

"No one is even sure of how big a problem Y2K was or would have been because everybody was working on everything that would stop it," he said.

(C) 2000 Columbia Daily Spectator via U-WIRE


-- Linkmeister (link@librarian.edu), January 21, 2000.

Thanks, Linkmeister.


-- Diane J. Squire (sacredspaces@yahoo.com), January 21, 2000.

$7,000,000.00 huh? Gee, I guess the few grand I spent wasn't overkill after all...

-- (@ .), January 21, 2000.

Gee, the pointy-heads at Columbia took some precautions. I wonder what the pointy-heads at Debunkers think of that?

-- Lars (lars@indy.net), January 21, 2000.

Moderation questions? read the FAQ