Getting Y2K Compliant

Getting Y2K Compliant

Two-year effort produces comprehensive plan

By Sean Smith
Staff Writer

It is 12:01 a.m., Jan. 1, 2000, and across Boston College power and water are unavailable, computer and network systems are inoperable, and hundreds of students spending semester break on campus lack heat, electricity and plumbing. With the Greater Boston area also experiencing widespread outages and emergencies, it's uncertain how long BC will have to endure this predicament.

Fortunately, says Information Systems Audit Manager Pamela Jerskey, this scenario is highly unlikely to occur - and even if it does, BC has a plan to deal with it.

For nearly two years, Jerskey and the University's Year 2000 Task Force she heads have been studying and organizing BC's readiness for the so-called "Y2K problem," a project cited by the US Department of Education as a model for higher education institutions.

The group's effort to protect BC from the much-discussed computer glitches and systems failures often predicted for the millennium transition has encompassed offices and departments across campus.

The Buildings and Grounds Department has analyzed elevators, fire alarms, security and temperature control systems in nearly 100 University-owned buildings, often during the overnight hours to minimize inconveniences.

Management Information Systems retooled some 6,000 programs, converted numerous data files and ran Y2K simulations.

Although fewer than 1 percent of communities nationwide are expected to experience any Y2K-related disruption of public utilities service, the task force has been monitoring local utilities' efforts to deal with the issue.

Pamela Jerskey

Jersky said approximately 250-300 students will be on campus over the semester break. In a worst-case scenario, students would be issued florescent light sticks and could be housed in the Lower Campus Dining Hall, which has a large fireplace that would help provide heat. Dining Services, which stores its own supply of drinking water, would utilize propane grills to prepare food. Portable toilets would be stationed nearby.

"You can say, 'Oh, it's not going to be so bad,'" she said, "but a major part of the reason for that is we've worked to ensure there will be minimal problems. Y2K preparedness may sound like doom and gloom, but responsible management says we have to plan, to take everything into account."

Financial Vice President Peter C. McKenzie feels the task force has done just that. "This project is a testimony to the strength of our management, at all levels of the University," he said. "We feel very confident that the process we've followed has put us in great shape."

The task force has established a World Wide Web site, /y2k, which offers details on BC's Y2K program.

Return to Oct. 14 menu

Return to Chronicle home page