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Volume 31, Issue 1

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Now that we are approaching the home stretch, it’s time to focus on a few details and speculate. So, with the turn of a few pages on those new 1999 calendars, we note with some relief that Dec. 31, 1999 is a Friday. Ha! We have the weekend, plus the New Year’s holiday Monday. No sweat... three days to fix any glitches. So what do you do? How do you plan to effectively use this window of opportunity?

Each and every one of the organizations planning for the millennium rollover (MR), and a slew of other dates starting this year and extending into 2001, will look closely at the post-Christmas period this year. There will be more planning for the days from Tuesday, December 28, 1999 to Wednesday, Jan. 5, 2000 by organizations throughout the world than has been devoted to space exploration. No organization can afford not to consider what it will do during this period. To sit and wait without forethought is an invitation to law suits claiming a lack of due diligence. So let’s look a little more closely at these critical days and speculate on what might be happening.

Tuesday, Dec. 28, 1999 6:15 am - Festive songs are still playing, but the mood around the Crisis Planning table is anything but. Two members of the Crisis Management Team are late and a third is ill. Work begins on a Board report due at 10:00 am on the positioning of resources and staffing, based on new intelligence gathered over the long weekend.

Tuesday, Dec. 28, 1999 12:00 noon - Final positioning, as revised for a 16th time, is approved by the Board. Resource Allocation Team members scramble to respond to what they hope are the final adjustments. There are shortfalls in four regions. Tasks are doubled-up on alternates to cover gaps.

Wednesday, Dec. 29, 1999 2:34 am - A malfunction in a security system partially activates the Emergency Response Team. Confirming that this was a false alarm the Team curses the impact on their much needed sleep. Wasn’t Y2K all we had to worry about!

Wednesday, Dec. 29, 1999 7:10 pm - Approval for first class air travel for pre-positioning of additional critical staff delayed; 27 people need alternate transport. My PCS slides off a table; it refuses to function.

Thursday, Dec. 30, 1999 9:30 am - Regional Ops Center #3 calls to say that the setup is complete, but four of twelve phones lines are dead and two team members haven’t checked in.

Thursday, Dec. 30, 1999 2:35 pm - As all Recovery Teams were to be in place by 12:00 noon, the final coded communications test is activated. Two centers fail to respond; four use incorrect codes. Test is rescheduled for 6:00 pm.

Thursday, Dec. 30, 1999 11:18 pm - Frantic activity on the streets as vital storage company vans load full back ups and hard copy of essential data. Coding is critical as quick access may be needed. Some vans stay in place for instant access to hard copy of important documents. Security is tight.

Friday, Dec. 31, 1999 3:00 am - MR minus 21 hours. Can’t sleep in the shared hotel room. Neither can the rest of the team. Communication links are checked for the umpteenth time. Procedures for advance notice from the Pacific and Far East are reviewed. We wait; nerves are tight. A team member has a stroke; medics are called in and our worry turns momentarily to our colleague. The designated alternate is woken up and told to report ASAP. Conversations are few. Waiting is hell.

Friday, Dec. 31, 1999 7:08 am - First news from New Zealand starts to come through. A few glitches, nothing catastrophic. A radio station failed, cause unknown. Live transmission appears normal.

Friday, Dec. 31, 1999 5:44 pm - News from the Far East, Africa, and Eastern Europe is not encouraging. Some power failures reported; no widespread panic but some looting in several cities. Incidents appear significant but isolated. Three large cruise ships have problems. Celebration and chaos jam the airwaves.

Friday, Dec. 31, 1999 11:45 pm - Our turn approaches. Muffled voices. Eyes are glued to an array of screens. Critical linkages are intently monitored. People jump when the phone rings. Check.

Saturday, Jan. 1, 2000 0:05 am - The clamour died down, and we realize the lights are on. We all try to call home - the lines are jammed! Calls come in from points west, jamming our lines. Everyone with a phone must be using it! Next, cells lock-up and we fall back on the dedicated and ham links.

Saturday, Jan. 1, 2000 7:19 am - News reports are full of various problems around the world; the focus is on human issues not business impacts. Details are very slim and some incidents may not even be related to the rollover. Confirming real incidents is difficult and frustrating. Some small recovery operations have been activated but most are on hold pending more definitive information.

Saturday, Jan. 1, 2000 11.56 am - Hawaii rolls over and the world has now completely entered Year 2000. Widespread failures are now reported as repeated efforts to activate systems have failed. Linkages appear to be the issue but no one can confirm. Global communication is spotty, triggering contingency plans which activate the manual system override. Secondary teams are notified.

Saturday, Jan. 1, 2000 6.52 pm - 75 percent of systems are operational and appear dependable, but 25percent — mainly related to external linkages — cannot be confirmed. The source of the problem is not evident. Workaround fixes have inadvertently crashed other systems. Progress is slow. The adrenaline is gone, people are fading.

Sunday, Jan. 2, 2000 8:30 am - More news of failures from remote parts of the world. Details are still scarce. Test runs of systems continue unabated since early on the 1st, revealing problems with processes for which integrated tests were not done. There is a need to move key people to other cities, but few aircraft are flying. Remote assistance is employed. Family problems thin the recovery team. Regular briefings are needed.

Sunday, Jan. 2, 2000 3:15 pm - We’re OK, but others aren’t. Some municipal systems seem to have been compromised in certain communities. Internal monitoring and fixes are underway. Attention to external problems is needed; few plans exist. An ad-hoc response takes shape under military and emergency response agency direction. Overseas reports are not encouraging.
Monday, Jan. 3, 2000 10:35 am - Announcement of Tuesday closures start to hit the airwaves. Some operations expect to reopen on January 10. The jitters return as most operations prepare for full functionality on the first business day of the year.

Tuesday, Jan. 4, 2000 9:30 am - Many people power up their computers for the first time; some fail. More rumors and hoaxes appear. Some accidents and deaths are attributed to the rollover. Legal actions begin.

Wednesday, Jan. 5, 2000 6:01 am - Some systems, including a few elevators, read January 5 as a Saturday (1980) and activate weekend programs. Weekend scheduling causes confusion in isolated pockets. February 29 is eight weeks away.

Next in the series - Looking the Monster in the Eye - Facing the Year 2000 Threat

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