Countries Proclaim Y2K Readiness



As the countdown for the final week of 1999 progresses, reports are pouring in from countries all around the globe with confirmations and cautions regarding Y2K readiness.

Portugal, which has already proclaimed its readiness for the millennium date changeover, today completed a communications center in Lisbon to monitor transportation, water, sanitation, and telecommunications services on New Year's Eve.

Similarly, the Swedish government today moved forward with plans to assemble an IT task force to combat hackers looking to take advantage of any confusion caused by Y2K.

In Saudi Arabia, the Saudi Higher National Committee on Y2K reports the kingdom has been 100% Y2K compliant in the areas of banking, telecommunications, and electricity since the first week of December.

The Indonesian government today reported having spent $100 million to update its computers and run Y2K simulations in the transportation, finance, oil and gas, power, and communications industries, even though the country has a low rate of computer use.

More industrialized nations such as Germany and Japan also proclaimed their readiness for Y2K, but have heightened security around key financial centers and established Y2K hot lines.

Not all of the reports exuded confidence. A Greek government task force established to manage Y2K problems indicated that 73% of Greek residents surveyed in mid-December fear a power blackout or a cut in the water supply. Another 41% believe state companies and banks are not properly prepared to meet next weekend's date rollover.

Meanwhile, both Qatar Airways and Iran Air today informed the media in their countries that neither company will operate flights the evening of Dec. 31. Despite its status as a country with a low level of technology, Iran has extended its precautionary approach to Y2K by declaring Jan. 1 a public holiday.

One analyst recommends U.S. companies continue to prepare themselves for the worst, rather than sift through the countless proclamations hitting the media this week. "As of November, these readiness reports became irrelevant anyway," says Howard Adams, a senior consulting analyst with Giga Information Group. "After November, it became too late to build a new contingency plan." Instead, companies with worldwide offices and business partners need to become self-sufficient and prepare to handle Y2K as they would any other emergency.

Another analyst agrees that companies preparing for Y2K should not alter their plans based on eleventh-hour reports, but should continue to pay attention to global events. "Now is not the time to begin taking these reports at face value," says Geary Sikich, a principal with Logical Management Systems Corp., a crisis-management and business consulting firm in Munster, Ind. "North American companies with concerns overseas, whether these are remote offices or supply-chain partners, should look closely at the information being provided and find threads of information they can use."

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