An influential Washington DC thinktank held a conference this week to deliberate on the global impact of the Millennium bug.
The Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), a public policy research institution founded in 1962, hosted the Year 2000 (Y2K): An International Perspective conference and has formed a taskforce to focus on international trading and finance, global security, litigation and infrastructure issues.
The task force is chaired by former US Senator Sam Nunn and includes select members of Congress, senior government officials, policy experts and business leaders from industries such as telecommunications, transport, financial services, consumer electronics and utilities.
Specialists from around the globe offered their perspectives on the global dimensions of the Y2K crisis and Jack Gribben, spokesman for the President's Council on Year 2000 Conversion, said: "There's no question that this is a global problem and sometimes we Americans lose sight of that."
Speakers at the conference included Maria Livanos Cattaui, Secretary General of the International Chamber of Commerce, Shinichi Hosono, First Secretary of the Economic Section of the Japanese Embassy and John Ivinson from the Action 2000 taskforce in the UK.
The speakers explained that when the millennium arrives, "undebugged" date-sensitive routers, switches, gateways, servers and embedded systems sitting on telecommunications networks may trigger erroneous signals throughout the entire system.
This could lead to global communications disruption, with health care payments unable to be processed electronically, credit card payments that cannot go through when point of sale systems fail and air traffic that will need to be halted.
Lou Marcoccio, a research director at consultants, the Gartner Group, also said at the conference that 30 to 50 percent of all companies worldwide would experience at least one mission critical failure due to the Year 2000 issue. About 15 percent of US companies would face the problem and 10 percent of these mission critical failures would last three days.
Although experts have said that international political and economic organisations have been slow to recognize the Millenium issue, a representative of President Clinton announced after a trip to Japan that the two countries have agreed to share information on solutions, testing and contingency planning.
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