The Year 2000 and its promise of date-related computer woes are less than a year away. Security insi

Two thousand zero zero party over, oops, out of time!

Security professionals are hoping that lyric from Prince’s hit song “1999” is not prophetic, as the ominous dawn of the so-called “Millennium Bug” grows ever closer.

Officially known as the Year 2000 problem, or Y2K for short, the situation represents a potential technological nightmare arising out of computer systems’ inability to recognize years after 1999.

Security is a computer-heavy industry that is particularly susceptible to the evils of Y2K since it is so reliant on time/date data processing.

So what should you concentrate your efforts on? All aspects of your system, including software, hardware and firmware, should be investigated for Y2K compliance. Equipment testing procedures must be mapped out and a contingency plan for system failure is essential. Other concerns involve staffing, insurance, liability and outside dependencies, such as the phone company.

Sort Through Software for Time, Date Discrepancies

One of the most integral components to any computer system is the software. Most of these programs reference the time and/or date in one way or another and, therefore, must be evaluated.

Get a Handle on Hardware Compliance Hassles

Y2K compliance does not stop with software. The equipment the programs are running has to be compliant as well. Your hardware should be thoroughly tested and, if necessary, either upgraded or replaced.

Embedded Chips Embody Hidden Threats

Perhaps the area with the greatest chance of being overlooked is that of embedded chips or firmware. Panels and receivers are the primary culprits here, but attention should also be focused on other devices, such as phone switches and access systems.

Y2K Compliance: It’s Complicated

The bottom line is that there is no uniform standard for Y2K compliance. It’s simply too complex a task to ensure compliance.

Take the Time to Test Thoroughly

Opinions splinter as to how difficult it is to test for Y2K compliance and what methodology should be employed. But there is universal agreement that testing is critical.

Consider Instituting Contingency Plans

Of course, all the testing in the world will not guarantee things will go off without a hitch. That is why dealers should be prepared for any eventuality by instituting contingency plans.

Factor in the Human Factor; Contact Customers

As mentioned, Y2K will impact many other areas besides alarm monitoring. This means that your entire staff, as well as the equipment they use, must be up to speed.

Dealers must also realize that Y2K is one of the biggest sources of concern for their customers. Therefore, they should develop a solid public relations strategy.

Potential Y2K Liabilities Deserve Attention

Y2K may turn out to be the single greatest source of lawsuits the world has ever seen. The situation has built-in liability issues and since there is no universal standard for compliance, the door is wide open for complicated and protracted litigation.

Dealers Do Not Exist in a Vacuum

The security industry does not operate in a vacuum. There are many ancillary services that are crucial to processing and responding to alarm signals. What if problems are encountered by emergency services, electric companies and phone companies?

Outlook: Rotten, Routine or Rosy?

There’s a vast chasm of opinion regarding the overall effect of Y2K. Religious zealots and survivalists are preparing for Armageddon, while some authorities downplay the event altogether. Sentiment within the security industry is nearly as divided.

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