Magazine article Nation's Cities Weekly

Denver Levels with Citizens about Y2K

Magazine article Nation's Cities Weekly

Denver Levels with Citizens about Y2K

Article excerpt

ANS--The city of Denver's approach to coping with the millennium bug was greeted with less than rave reviews. The headline in the Denver Post read: "City to Tackle Y2K when time comes."

Yet after some initial sneers on the Internet, Y2K experts have given Denver a thumbs up--partly for acknowledging publicly that things will go wrong when computers cross into year 2000.

In a nutshell, the Denver plan is to repair computer systems deemed essential to public health and safety, then simply to wait for some others to break down in 2000--and fix them in a hurry.

"It's a form of triage, and it's the only sensible course of action," said Howard Rubin, chairman of the computer science department at Hunter College in New York.

"They're actually doing what everyone is doing," which is to concentrate on repairing "mission critical systems," said Rubin.

What is perhaps unusual about Denver is the advance warning it is giving to citizens that some things will go awry, several experts said.

"They're being up front. They're not trying to fool the populace by saying we've got it all covered," Rubin said. "It may sound scary, but they're saying: Be prepared for things to go wacko."

That is the message most cities will be circulating by the middle of this year, said Cathy Moyer, president of Profiles in Data, a Denver consulting firm that has advised the city.

Denver's policy is also prudent from the standpoint of public psychology, she said. …

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