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A new report from the National Preparedness Commission (NPC) considers what we can lean from an IT issue at the turn of the millennium and apply today.

The NPC has launched its latest report on ‘The Lessons from the Millennium Bug’ . The Millennium Bug or Y2K issue arose when it was feared that computers would fail at midnight on 1 January 2000. The concerns related to the formatting and storage of data for dates beginning in 2000 because many computer programs represented four-digit years with only the final two digits, making the year 2000 indistinguishable from 1900.

The report explains why Y2K was potentially so serious and how the risks were addressed by co-ordinated and timely action to mitigate them. It also points to important lessons from that experience to ensure future resilience.

The report concludes that ‘Contrary to popular belief that experts misjudged, and exaggerated, the scale of the problem, remediation was largely successful precisely because those expert warnings were heard and acted upon. Y2K should be regarded as a signal event – a near miss that should serve as one more major stimulus to change the way that IT systems are designed and built, so that no similar problem can happen again. But there are also wider lessons for national preparedness.’

For a copy of the full report, see here.

Resilience First is a supporting partner of the National Preparedness Commission.

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