Y2K and Utilities
The average urban South African interacts with at least 20 computers or microchips a day. In this first part of our special edition, 'In Touch' examines the effect of Y2K on our basic utilities...will the Millennium Bug have an effect on our bare essentials such as water and electricity?
"Water and electricity are something that we take for granted," says 'In Touch' reporter, Pat Pillai (HYPERLINK TO PRESENTER'S PAGE), "In fact, these services have become an integral part of our daily lives, but will these services be Y2K compliant by the first of January in the year 2000? Or will we in fact find ourselves in the dark, home and dry?"
"The probability of a national blackout is actually very remote, given that we have taken the necessary precautions to cover the problem area." says Etienne Theart, Corporate Information Manager of Escom.
" If we do experience a problem, because we are in the middle of our summer, and the December holidays, the demand on our grid would be low, and therefore we would have lots of alternate routes to get around the problem."
But in most cases, power to homes or offices does not come directly off the national grid. The job of local distribution is left to Escom's customers, the local municipal authorities - and that is where we might have a problem...
"We're not just dependent on Escom to get electricity to us, but also our local municipalities, and I understand that a very few of these municipalities are dealing with these problems, even though Escom is, " says Russell Bridger, a Y2K consultant at the Dimension Data Group.
"It can cause total chaos on our network," says Escom's Theart, "because we suddenly lose the load on our network. We are dependent on local municipalities for the efficient working of our grid, and we rely on the efficiency of our customers to accept electricity."
"At this point, we are particularly concerned about local authorities and what they doing about the problem," echoes the National Y2K offices' Mohamed Mahdi, "however, they do have financial constraints, and they don't have the skills to tackle the problem in the manner required, so as a result, we anticipate that there will be disruption at that level, and we trying to contain that as much as possible."
AND WHAT ABOUT WATER?
"If electricity is not available, we cannot pump," says Adam Van BilJon, Systems Manger of Rand Water, "and if chemicals are not available, we cannot purify the water. Regarding water purification, the problem will not be on 0101. It will come afterwards, when the chain is broken of supply of chemicals is broken."
Water billing systems could also go haywire: "In this country, water telemetry systems are not yet compliant," says the Y2K Centre's Mahdi, "we need to make them compliant. The oil refinery plants are not compliant - if those aren't made compliant, we are going to have major problems."
Y2K AND TRANSPORTATION
"We will in fact be able to give our customers a guarantee that there will be no delays in service for Spoornet's freight business."
And what about air traffic? Peter Marais is the Divisional Manager of Avionic Services in South Africa:
But again, the interconnectedness of things could pose a problem, which bothers the Y2K Centre's Mohamed Mahdi:
"I certainly won't be flying," says Desray Clark, Y2K Manager of Abraxas Technologies, "and I think that a lot of airlines will not be flying at the rollover date."
Y2K AND TELECOMMS
"Telkom has a number of sub-projects," says Paul Pretorius, in charge of Telkom's Y2K Technology Services, "we started initially at the beginning of 1996, and they all have completion dates by the end of this year , except for our digital voice mailing system which has a completion by the middle of 1999."
UTILITIES - LOCAL IS NOT LEKKER
JE (Etienne) Theart
Adam Van Biljon
Peter C. Marais
Created and maintained
by Intekom works
Copyright © 1998 Intekom
Contents and images © 1998
All rights reserved