Poll: Y2K fears ease in U.S.
September 10, 1999
by Clare Haney
(IDG) -- As the end of the year draws closer, Americans feel a good deal less worried about the year 2000 (Y2K) problem than they did six to nine months ago, according to the results of an opinion poll released today.
Close to 90% of those question ed in the poll said they have heard "some or a great deal" about the year 2000 problem. More than one-third think that any year 2000-related problems will only involve a few days around Jan. 1, 2000, a substantial change from a March survey when only 15% of those surveyed held that view.
Gallup, together with the independent federal funding agency the National Science Foundation (NSF) and USA Today, polled 1,014 U.S. adults between Aug. 25 and 29 via telephone interviews. It's the third poll the trio h as carried out on Y2K since December last year. The second one took place in March. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus three percentage points, NSF said in a statement issued today.
Separately, several U.S. utilities also announced today t hat they sailed through year 2000 practice drills related to the potentially troublesome 09/09/99 date, which many industry observers saw as a precursor of what to expect when Jan. 1, 2000, rolls around. Today's date -- Sept. 9 -- can be read by some comp uters as "9999" and interpreted as a stop-program or end-of-file command.
Americans are also less afraid of flying on or around Jan. 1, 2000, with 43% of respondents in the Gallup poll saying they will try to avoid flying at that time, compared to 54% in March. Only 35% of those polled believe that air-traffic control system s will fail due to the year 2000 problem, down from 43% in March.
The U.S population is also more confident that banking systems won't succumb to the date changeover problem, with 48% saying such systems will fail, as opposed to 63% in December of last year, according to the survey. Also, 90% of those polled said that they won't take all their money out of the bank, although 25% are planning to withdraw a large amount of money for possible contingencies related to any year 2000-related problems.
Few er people -- just over 25% compared to 36% in December -- believe that 911 emergency communications systems for the police, fire and ambulance services will fail due to the date rollover.
However, once they look outside of the U.S., Americans' year 200 0 confidence levels remained virtually static since December 1998, at just under the 50% mark, that foreign governments will be able to correct their own date changeover issues. There was a slight dip in the respondents' take on the Third World and develo ping countries' ability to handle the year 2000 issue, with 75%, down from March's 81%, saying they're not confident such countries can upgrade their systems to avoid the problem.
Meanwhile, a number of U.S. electric utilities announced a successful co nclusion to the year 2000 readiness drills they carried out from yesterday until today.
An exercise conducted by the North American Electric Reliability Council (see story) went without a hitch, according to a statement from New York-based Northeast Po wer Coordinating Council (NPCC). The drill was a test of the contingency plans in place to deal with the date switchover from 1999 to 2000, and no problems were experienced in the transition to Sept. 9. Standing by were several thousand electric staff acr oss the U.S. and Canada, who had to show their skill in using backup communications in simulated contingencies, the NPCC statement said.
Get ready for Y2K false alarms, panic
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