From: "Ian Hugo" <[log in to unmask]>
I'm about to go to my third Y2K meeting of third world countries, to
present, facilitate, help, etc. I understand a general perception
that third world countries with relatively unsophisticated
infrastructure and good possibilities for fallback to manual
operation are low risk but my experience thus far suggests that this
is a half-truth. And I don't see enough concern in this direction.
Some points from what I've learned so far are:
1 There are more critical dependencies than I at first suspected
and many of those are on continued operation of systems in the first
and second worlds. Tourism (delivery of economy-funding tourists) is
a prime case. Off-shore banking is another.
2 Shipping and transport more generally (along with its
navigation, safety, port, customs, etc dependencies) is a major risk.
3 Many admin. systems are relatively simple and based on small
(typically PC) systems and don't present a major technical problem.
But when they fail and affect the public, the public doesn't protest
with phone calls and letters; it riots and destabilises the govt.
There's lots of potential for that.
4 Funds are minimal, with many consequences, as for instance:
4a) Some govts are still trying to establish the compliance status of
m/cs you'd expect to find only in museums; and they haven't the hard
currency to replace them.
4b) I'd put the boot into the UK govt over funding available except
that it's put more into the pot than any other country (including the
USA). An exercise I've just finished (started?) in the Caribbean (15
countries) should take, for its first stage, 2/5 of the total
funding allocated for distribution to 54 countries for all programme
4c) You might reasonably assume that multinational corps
would look after their own interests/subsidiaries in the third world
but you'd be wrong is some important cases. They have their priority
lists and work through those but they don't necessarily represent the
importance of the facility to the economy of the third world country.
5 Expertise is at a premium. Every Y2K myth you've ever heard I've
also seen bought by some third world national programme. They have
scarce expert resources and any of those that show in daylight are
being poached by first world companies as soon as they are
6 The countries I've seen/talked to all need: a) an injection of
expertise; b) to create/improve remediation and contingency
programmes in parallel, modifying the latter as teh former can
7 To run parallel exercises they need funds (at least for one
track) and the funds aren't available at the moment. International
banking and telecom organisations are doing excellent work in helping
in their areas but it's not enough.
8 Some people might consider that there's a residual responsibility
on first world countries who have supplied IT or other (e.g.
medical) equipment in recent years as part of aid programmes to sort
out any resultant Y2K problems. But there's no compulsion and little
evidence of commitment as far as I can see.
8 Who cares?
Patrick O'Beirne B.Sc. M.A. FICS. Software Quality Consultant
PSP, TickIT, Y2K PC software assessment, euro(EMU) conversion
http://www.iol.ie/sysmod Tel: +353 (0)55 22294 Fax: 22297
Systems Modelling Ltd, Tara Hill, Gorey, Co. Wexford, IRELAND