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AFRIK-IT  March 1998

AFRIK-IT March 1998

Subject:

DEVMODL: Topic 003: Embedded and Medical Systems

From:

Chris Anderson <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

African Network of IT Experts and Professionals (ANITEP) List

Date:

Sun, 22 Mar 1998 13:13:38 GMT

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (97 lines)

At 12:44 1998-03-21 -0500, Christian Hartleben wrote:
>   I saw no mention in your two-post proposal for the remediation of
>embedded systems in the Developing Countries.  Is this considered
>impractical for reasons of cost, or time, or the lack of available
>programmers?  Or do they not use such devices in their Power and Water
>utilites?
>   My first thought when I sat down to read your proposal was, "How will
>the writer propose to deal with embedded systems, in circumstances with
>such low commitment to address Y2k?"  I thought such problems might even
>outweigh either the contributions of the PC/Lan sector, or that of the
>Mainframes.

Thanks for your feedback. Embedded systems do in fact play a part in
the model. The clue is hidden in the detail of deliverables in Topic
001:

Consolidated Embedded Systems Database
Consolidated Medical Equipment Database

One of the difficulties of dealing with Embedded Systems is
the difficulty in Identification of Equipment.

Also, many of the Embedded Systems Remediators are playing their
cards very close to their chests, claiming "copyright" on any
information in their databases and only allowing access to those who
have paid ("substantial") fees.

So there is in effect an attempt to "corner the market" by Light
Current
Engineers.

A database is a "resultant of applied work". At this point we are
battling to achieve a complete inventory. Replacement or Modification
techniques are still to come. So the benefit of a database at this
point
is purely to assist in Identification. As information becomes
available
then this would would be fed back into the Database.

This approach has been of mixed benefit when dealing (for example)
with COTS products when dealing with Vendor Statements. Current
wisdom says that Vendor Compliance Statements are not worth the
paper they are written on. However, the Identification aspects of such
a Database are useful. Now that we know we have to Test each product
we can map the results onto the Original Database and achieve
something useful.

Current thoughts are that you need to list EVERY piece of
electronically
controlled equipment by Make, Model, Version and Function. The First
Pass being "nonintrusive", possibly inserting Test Equipment such as
Datascopes
or Logic Analysers inline.

Once you have prioritised your approach by Function
(i.e. most critical first) you would then do the Second (or Intrusive)
Pass
varying the device offline, lifting the covers and looking for
specific chips,
or reading ROMS.

You could then do Preliminary Testing such as setting the date
forward.
All sorts of War Stories are emerging where some devices object
to being set backwards to current date after such a test.

There are all sorts of traps for the unwary. In Process Control
scenarios
it may well be infeasible to take devices offline without affecting
production.
So additional (excess) Plant Maintenance downtime will have to be
scheduled as part of the overall Project Plan.

We just do not have Empirical Data on this process yet. We need Formal
Testing Specifications similar to those we have for COTS products.

And when we get into Medical Devices, we have to test and Certify
each and every device. This must be Controlled by Medical Councils.

The Jury is still Out. All we can truthfully say about Embedded
Systems
is "Here Be Dragons".

In terms of DEVMODL, we should add the following actions
for the Competence Centre:

Task the National Standards and Testing Authority to devise a suitable
protocol for detection, remediation and Certification of Embedded  and
Medical Systems.

Task the National Medical Council to certify Medical Devices.
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Chris Anderson          email:                       [log in to unmask]
Y2K Cinderella Project          [log in to unmask]
http://www.cinderella.co.za             Striving for Year 2000 Compliance
------------------------------------------------------------------------

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