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Federal Highway Administration > Publications > Public Roads > Vol. 63· No. 3 > Are You Ready for Y2K?

Nov/Dec 1999
Vol. 63· No. 3

Are You Ready for Y2K?

PLEASE NOTE: Some of the information and links in this article may now be somewhat dated. With the passing of Y2K, some web sites and Y2K programs cited herein may have been dismantled. (updated August, 2000)

An article - "Managing Resources and Preparing for the Y2K Weekend" - in the last issue of Public Roads (September/October 1999) discussed some of the efforts underway to assist transportation operators to identify and resolve potential Year 2000 (Y2K) problems. The article stressed the need for contingency plans in the event that Y2K repair efforts fail or that failures are beyond the control of transportation operators, and it emphasized that it is critical that state and local governments build public confidence about Y2K preparedness within their communities.

Much of the information in the article came from a working session of 20 state and local government officials on May 12, 1999. The session was conducted by the U.S. Department of Transportation and its partner Public Technology Inc. (PTI). The purpose of the session was to draw on the expertise of the participants to develop material that would guide local and state transportation agencies in managing the Y2K transition weekend (Dec. 28 through Jan. 3).

Now, a full report of this session is available on the Internet at http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/Y2K/y2k.pdf. This report, entitled Are You Ready? Managing Transportation Resources Through the Y2K Weekend, is designed to help governments to prepare for the Y2K weekend and to build public confidence in the adequacy of those preparations. The three scenarios described in the report can be used during meetings, workshops, and other presentations as a way to encourage participants to discuss the current state of their contingency plans and improve valuable lines of communication across agency and jurisdictional boundaries.

Specifically, the report recommends the following:

  • Establish sources and mechanisms that can be employed to identify and communicate where and when problems arise. These sources can be tapped to provide status and condition reports even if no problems arise. For example, vehicle probes - manned by police, government staff, or taxi services - can be used to identify system status and condition.
  • Develop and test a business continuity and contingency plan.
  • Activate the local or state emergency operations center prior to the new year, which will ensure the availability of key staff.
  • Coordinate and communicate among jurisdictions and agencies.
  • Develop a way to monitor Y2K events internationally. The new year occurs first in Asia, and these regions could provide a barometer of what to expect here.

The participants also had a number of specific recommendations regarding building public confidence and community team building. These recommendations were included in the previous article.

The best way to avoid misperceptions about Y2K and its effects on the transportation system is to provide quality information as quickly and comprehensively as possible and through as many different means of communication as possible. One of the keys to meeting this goal is to ensure that public affairs and other staff who might field questions from the public have complete and accurate information regarding Y2K issues and responses. This will require good coordination among agencies and jurisdictions and a clear understanding of how information should flow from the field back to the people who need it. It may also require finding innovative ways to communicate.

Organizational Web Sites

For more information about preparing for Y2K, see the following Web sites:

  • Access Local Government (http://www.algov.org). This online information service for local officials has a Year 2000 section as part of a national campaign sponsored jointly by PTI, the National League of Cities, the National Association of Counties, and the International City/County Management Association.
  • American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (http://www.aashto.org/).
  • Federal Highway Administration (http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/y2k/).
  • Institute of Transportation Engineers (http://www.ite.org/).
  • ITS America Information Clearinghouse (http://www.itsa.org/home.nsf).
  • Public Technology Inc. (http://pti.nw.dc.us/y2k).
  • Urban Mobility (http://www.mobility-net.com/forum).
  • Williams, Mullin, Christian & Dobbins (http://www.y2k.com). Sponsored by a law firm with offices in Richmond, Va., and Washington, D.C., this site provides legal resources for avoiding Year 2000 disruptions and for reducing litigation exposure.
  • The Year 2000 Information Center (http://www.year2000.com). This premiere Year 2000 Web site offers a range of information on the problem, its effects, and its solutions.

State Web Sites

The following state Web sites contain information about Y2K preparedness:

Note: Those URLs that are not linked no longer exist.

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