Contingency Planning: What IS it? What does it Mean? : LUSENET : Millennium Salons : One Thread

Contingency planning's a tougher issue that people think. Here's part of a message from Mitchell Barnes to the mail list that seemed to prompt the creation of this category in this forum...

"One of this list focuses I talked about with Cynthia was contingency planning. Contingency planning _was_ about creating workarounds last year, it looked like, possibly, enough y2k systemic non-compliance would be remediated to the extent where normal styled contingency planning might work. We are no longer in that window of opportunity. Contingency planning must now begin to embrace the creation of whole new ways of providing the basic services which will be interupted sometime during 2000. Most likely, many present systems will not come back online.

"Now we are in the philosophical realm. Perception of y2k impact is all. If you perceive y2k will have a soft landing, creating deep alternative infrastructure prior to y2k will have a certain defeatist tone which many will find offensive. If you perceive that y2k is going to land hard, then creating alternate infrastructure, one not based upon the assumption of resumption of our present services, is obviously necessary - right now when we still have time and resources.

"When one begins to integrate the whole y2k picture, its extant, depth, the present stages of remediation, and the timeframe - then certain social factors _should_ begin to be part of everyone's y2k and post-y2k reality planning. Programmers, managers, business owners, private citizens, and emergency planners no longer have the luxury of pretense that everything is going to be ok and that things will get back to normal."

As also mentioned in the "Brief Introduction," contingency planning's a difficult issue. It seems to be one of those phrases that sounds familiar, but, when you get right down to it, is foreign. I first noticed that when I started reading the basic y2k directions from places like the GAO and Federal Reserve. The "five elements" of a y2k project: Inventory, Assessment, Conversion, Testing, Contingency Planning. There seemed to be lots of information available on how to handle those first four items, but as I started to sniff around for information on contingency planning, there didn't seem to be any.

Personal contingency plans are much easier to get a grip on than community contingency plans. (There is a wealth of discussion and information covering that topic in the forums at Gary North's web site: When it comes to our communities (that are full of people who don't know much about y2k), the question gets tricky, fast.

I believe Mitch's comments hit the nail on the head. And the basic idea with this question is to start a dialouge that seeks to carve out some definition of the term "Contingency Planning," in order to see what people seem to think it means, how those things might be done, and which of them may be feasible when it comes to implementing them where we live.

-- Bill (, June 06, 1998


Ian Wells writes:

Given we have 18 months, and that we have knowledge of the risks, we have the luxury of making decisions that can be helpful independent of the level of y2k disruptions. Also, from a scheduling point of view, we are reaching points where we must decide whether to start contingency planning or lose the ability to do so.

Here are some examples from my life.

--Plant fruit trees in the yard. - good news for my wife - --Our church is likely to set up to become a Red Cross shelter, which will help out our community for ice storms or for y2k disruptions. --Emergency measures organizations could start working through y2k-type disruptions so they have a plan in hand just in case. I have heard it takes 18 months to produce and test a contingency plan. --Our water supplier must decide whether to upgrade their emergency power source for a cost of one million dollars. This decision could be influenced by the odds of long power failures in 2000. This generator is in the 1999 budget plan.

I would also like to suggest that there is an interesting role for community organizations that is neither contingency nor remediation. That is the role of "customer" or "end user". Perhaps some of the readers of this list have experience in this role.

All companies are pleased to seek the advice and viewpoint of their customers because it provides a focus to people working on their product. It helps ensure that they are building what can be sold. Customers often see the product in a different light than the people who produce it. And the more people are involved in producing the product, the more important is the voice and feedback of the customer because efforts can easily be spent on things that do not matter to the customer.

It helps me in visualizing the y2k problem to imagine that all our interconnected computers are one giant system. I imagine that the y2k conversion is a fix that must be applied throughout the system. The system is being live tested as fixes are applied in different sectors and the entire system must have all fixes applied by 01/01/2000 or unremediated code will be faulty and the patches/corrections to fix these problems will be live tested as they are brought on stream in 2000. This interconnected system is a huge system. All engineers are focusing on their own part of it, much like component providers do as they submit their component to integration testing. Our integration testing is being done live worldwide and this worldwide integration testing is not subject to software methodologies we have evolved over time for lesser projects. Note that the validation that the Fed is doing for banks is an excellent example of integration testing done following solid methodology, but the US banking system is just one component in this world wide computer system. As an example of not following proven software methodologies, we have no overall y2k project leader who could call a component provider to task or to demand status information.

What could help focus this effort is a word from our customer, and that customer is *us* in our community. The bottom line is degradation of services, both basic and consumer, to us caused by this y2k bug.

So I believe y2k community groups can be helpful to focus on what is most important, given that there is no y2k project leader and politicians, who typically represent the public, seem to be abrogating leadership. The voice of y2k community groups can help decision makers by

o stating what are the most important services we require (water, for example), o by determining actual project status (from end user point of view), o coming up with out of the box solutions (a benefit of not being an expert!) o research problems that fall between the cracks and are part of no one's job o point out disconnects (for example, the legal profession and the IT community - lawyers can say to keep quiet on actual status for liability reasons, IT says make status public so completion dates can be estimated),

Ian Wells Community Year 2000 Project Disclaimer: Views expressed are mine alone

-- cynthia (, June 06, 1998.

The best possible contingency for communities has to be self-sustainable neighborhoods. There is not much time left. Therefore, a list or model(s) to disseminate to neighborhoods globally of cheap and simple means for sustainability is what needs to be solicited. Wouldn't you feel safer if your neighborhood was self-reliant, self-sustainable comprehensively? And all the neighborhoods far and wide? Its still possible, but lets mobilize and be creative.

-- Tom Osher (, November 23, 1998.

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