City, county hope they’ve taken bite out of Y2K bug | AspenTimes.com

City, county hope they’ve taken bite out of Y2K bug

John Colson

Wondering what you’ll do if the world blacks out just after midnight on Jan. 1, 2000?

Well, you’re not alone. The question has been bugging people all over the world ever since it first became generally known that the so-called millennium bug might make computer systems crash around the globe.

The bug is a computer programming glitch that that can cause computers to read the last two digits of the year (00) as 1900 instead of 2000, which may lead to system failures.

Although there was considerable alarm over the bug when it first became widely understood a couple of years ago, most governments and corporations today say they have fixed most of the problems and that there should be little trouble from the interruption of services.

But government agencies continue to prepare for the worst, choosing to err on the side of caution, and a number of people believe the disruptions will be worse than the governments are letting on.

Here in Aspen, as in many towns across the country, local law enforcement and governmental bureaucracies have leaped into the breach.

Pitkin County and the city of Aspen have set up a variety of mechanisms for dealing with the public safety and welfare problems that might arise if the millennium bug really bites the valley in a significant way.

Both governments hired a consultant, Technology Resource Solutions, Inc., to determine whether local governments’ “priority systems” were susceptible to the Y2K bug.

The consultant’s conclusion, according to the Y2K Aspen Web site (www.aspengov.com/Y2K/

Y2KCCRDY.html), was that “most systems were found to be compliant.” That means most of the computers being used for critical local governmental functions are not susceptible to the millennium bug.

At City Hall, the City Council hired a Y2K coordinator, Roxanne Bank, as part of a city-county Y2K team that is overseeing the plans for dealing with a “worst-case scenario” of three days without power or other basic services.

At the Pitkin County Courthouse, Deputy Sheriff Ellen Anderson is the public information officer for Y2K, charged with getting information out to the public through the local media.

She said last week that the Incident Command System (a personnel and resource management system that is used during rescues and other public emergencies) is being used to coordinate law enforcement activities over the New Year’s Day holiday, and that it will be run out of the basement of the courthouse. Check the Web A rundown of the city-county state of compliance in general can be found on the Y2K Aspen Web site, in a report compiled by Y2K coordinator Bank.

The site contains a series of articles on Y2K written by Bank, in both English and Spanish, as well as links to Y2K-related sites. These linked Web sites represent numerous federal and state agencies, utility companies, and preparedness agencies and organizations.

According to the information on the Y2K Aspen Web site, local water, electricity and natural gas distribution systems are not expecting prolonged disruptions in service.

In addition, at the Aspen-Pitkin County Airport, “most of the Y2K-sensitive computer systems … are compliant,” the Web site states, including the systems at Aspen Base Operations. The security and baggage screening systems are new and should experience no Y2K-related problems, the report continues.

The Web site also carries information about the Y2K preparedness of the Colorado Department of Transportation, the Roaring Fork Transit Agency, Aspen Valley Hospital and other agencies and organizations.

Area citizens interested in learning more about local governments’ preparedness for Y2K problems are encouraged to check out the Web site, either through a home computer or at the Pitkin County Library.


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