Over the past two years, dedicated representatives of every sector of MIT have been working to prepare the Institute for a trouble-free transition into the first days and months of the year 2000. Every department, principal investigator and owner of equipment containing embedded processors and desktop computers is responsible for achieving Y2K com-pliance in their equipment and computers.
Thanks to the efforts of faculty, staff and students, we anticipate that our Institute-wide computers, information, telecommunications and utility systems are or will be made year-2000 compliant. The Institute is expected to operate smoothly into the new millennium even with computer chip and programming clocks that use only two digits to track years.
The entire MIT community faces one more major Y2K-related hurdle: we need to prepare for the critical period running from noon on Friday, December 31, 1999 through 9am on Tuesday, January 4, 2000.
This transition period is crucial to everyone at MIT. Despite the efforts of faculty, staff and students, responsibility for Y2K compliance rests with each owner of equipment. There is so much equipment at MIT that some equipment and systems likely have been missed and may fail. To avoid lost or damaged research and other data, interrupted research and business operations and other damage, everyone at MIT needs to develop appropriate contingency plans that are not dependent on outside support.
Fortunately, the remaining risks associated with Y2K can be greatly reduced by the adoption of a few simple policies before and during the critical December 31-January 2 time frame.
Already, MIT's Safety Office has undertaken a comprehensive updating of the "green card" emergency contact information system for laboratories and research centers. These contacts will assist efforts to address any emergencies that arise with a minimum of damage to research and operations.
The information on "green cards" is crucial not only for the Y2K transition, but also for all other emergencies. If your department, lab or center (DLC) has not yet posted a new card and submitted the information to the Safety Office, please do so immediately.
At the same time, verify that at least one of the contact people noted on the updated card will be reachable in case of emergency over the transition period. During normal three-day weekends, there are typically failures. The Y2K transition period will be a four-day weekend, making some failures likely even without considering Y2K complications. Given the unlikely but still possible disruptions in telecommunications and outside utilities and services, DLCs should consider designating someone to monitor any activities that will be operating through the transition period.
MIT has assembled a special team to monitor campus operations throughout this period and to maintain a command post that will provide coordination for -- and information on -- any problems that may arise. The team includes representatives from Information Systems, Telecommunications, Facilities, Transportation, the Safety Office, Campus Police, MIT Medical, and Residential Life/Student Life Programs.
Please do not depend on the Transition Team to prevent or fix any lab- or office-specific problem that may arise during the Y2K transition. Consult with the team and use its web site to undertake your own contingency planning.
Please focus your final Y2K efforts on contingency planning. Prudent planning now will help you ensure a smooth, successful start to the new year.
John R. Curry
Executive Vice President
A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on November 17, 1999.