Y2K's Arrival

Y2K's Arrival

By Beth Ann Piehl - Staff Writer
December 12, 1999

John A. Campau’s 4,000 customers – banks, jewelry stores, and private homeowners are counting on him for their safety come midnight New Year’s Eve.

The Comtronics Alarm Center
Citizen Patriot · Marcia Butterfield

Campau isn’t a cop or a doctor; he’s president of Comtronics in Jackson, a 24-hour security alarm monitoring company. After investing thousands of dollars, he’s confident the so-called “Y2K” computer bug won’t affect his monitoring systems, or customers’ security set-ups.

But he and nine other staffers will keep watch at the office when the clock hits 12:01 a.m. January 1 – just to be safe.

“We’ve been preparing for this for two years,” Campau said. “We’ve spent $150,000 and upgraded all of our computers and software. All of our computers are Y2K compliant. As you can imagine, with 4,000 customers, we’ve been planning.”

The Comtronics staff working New Year’s Eve won’t be the only ones at their desks instead of on the dance floor. Thousands of companies will have extra staff on hand to monitor problems that may occur because of the potential computer glitch Y2K.

The concern is that computers may not recognize the “00” in 2000 when their internal clocks click to midnight, January 1, identifying the year instead as 1900 and throwing programs into chaos. Some fear government, banks, utilities and businesses will shut down.

Comtronics Alarm Center is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and serves 4,000 customers in five states.

Since computers run practically everything these days, utility workers will be on the clock in case water, sewer, electric or gas systems go down. Police and firefighters, doctors and nurses, reporters and bankerss, managers and company presidents will all be working at least through midnight.

Consumers Energy will increase its usual statewide New Year’s Eve crew from 500 to 2,000, involving everyone from supervisors to technicians, according to Charles MacInnis, head of information services in Jackson. Dozens more of the company’s 9,000 employees will be on call.

“We will have operating employees at substations around the state,” MacInnis said. “They can respond in the event something unforseen crops up.”

After numerous tests since Consumers first began preparing for Y2K in 1995, MacInnis said the company expects no disruption in the flow of gas and electricity.

“We are anticipating an uneventful evening,” he said.

Consumers always has staff working New Year’s Eve because of potential weather-related outages. This year, the company is hoping people won’t panic if nasty winter conditions cause outages and blame it on Y2K.

“Our focus is going to be on rapid communication with the media throughout the evening,” he said. He’s working through the night with 12 other news and information staffers to keep the media informed of events. “I think a lot of people have been interested in this issue,” MacInnis said.

Reprinted with permission from The Jackson Citizen Patriot
Copyright December 1999

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