workers gear up, but expect a quiet night
By Dan Heuchert
the rest of the world is out celebrating the Big Two-Triple-0
on New Year's Eve, a cadre of dedicated technology, health and
safety professionals will be posted around Grounds, awaiting any
sign of the dreaded "Y2K bug." "I expect it to
be the most boring night I've spent in a long time," said
Don Reynard, director of applications and data services for the
Technology and Communication department (ITC) and one of many
U.Va. employees who will be spending the New Year's Eve holiday
on Grounds. "I hope there's a good bowl game on TV."
turn of the millennium has prompted some to fear the end of the
world as we know it; apocalyptic rumors, trouble-seeking media
reports and made-for-TV movies have added fuel to the fire. While
the University will err on the side of caution and require additional
staffing in key areas, those who have worked most closely with
the Y2K compliance effort expect few, if any, glitches.
feel very good" about being prepared, said Martha Stearns,
the University's year 2000 project manager. "We've been working
on it since 1996."
Her biggest concerns right now, she said, are public panic and
sensationalistic media reports. When someone runs a car into a
power-line pole or an ATM goes on the fritz shortly after midnight
on Jan. 1, people may quickly make a mental leap to blaming it
on the Y2K bug -- when, in fact, those things can happen anytime,
she pointed out.
is confident that the University is ready, but admits that she
can't be quite as sure about outside entities that could affect
the University's operations. Representatives have visited many
of the University's top vendors to check their Y2K preparations
and have stockpiled some supplies.
reality, you've got big companies who don't want to be sued, and
have worked really hard because preventing problems is cheaper
than getting sued," Stearns said.
tanks for the University's auxiliary generators have been or will
be topped off before Dec. 31, and a 3,000-gallon diesel fuel tanker
will we stationed on Grounds Dec. 31, and won't be released until
the all-clear is given, said Scott Martin, utility systems analyst
at Facilities Management.
three years of preparations, there will be many employees on the
clock at midnight and in the hours thereafter just to make sure
everything is running well.
The first priority will be the Medical Center, where the delivery
of patient care must remain seamless. The hospital's emergency
command center will be activated, and many of those who work with
its computers and patient care equipment will be on site. Care
providers will be staffed at normal levels, but there will be
many people on call if greater needs arise, Stearns said.
state is requiring the hospital to report any Y2K-related problems
every six hours through Jan. 4, while the rest of the University
must report in three times a day for the first week, Stearns said.
Chief Mike Sheffield will be working the overnight shift with
an extra contingent of his charges. He has cancelled all leave
time between 4 p.m. on Dec. 31 and Jan. 3 -- just in case.
better group of people is there to be here with over the holiday
than police officers?" he said. "I think most of them
are professional enough to understand. We will look at things
to try to do for them."
locus of activity will be ITC, where many staffers will be checking
the computing and communications systems from their offices, while
others will conduct tests from home.
problems are "pretty much a non-issue" for the academic
side, Reynard said. Students will be out of town and most employees
will be off until Jan. 4. The payroll will be run before the end
of December, and demand for the ISIS student registration system
is expected to be low. And with most employees on holiday leave,
there won't be much need for other administrative functions, like
the purchasing system. There has been some talk among ITC employees
about ordering pizza and other ways to mark the coming of the
new year, Reynard said, but most people hope to come in, run the
required tests and get back home.
Management plans to have about 75 to 100 extra workers on hand
New Year's Eve, many of whom will be ready to address any concerns
at the hospital. The department has done extensive testing over
the past year or so, Martin said, including evaluations of elevators
and fire systems. They expect few, if any, problems.
workers will patrol Grounds, looking for problems, while others
will be in the Leake Building's systems control center, which
can monitor systems in 100 University buildings.
hasn't heard any grumbling from those assigned to work overnight
New Year's Eve. On the contrary, most volunteered, he said.
"The people who do these things, they get charged up and
take a lot of pride in what they're doing," he said.