Internet site lets you discover if your community is preparing for Y2K issues

Internet site lets you discover if your community is preparing for Y2K issues Starting Sept. 1, South Dakotans can judge for themselves whether their communities are ready for potential Year 2000 computer and technology problems.

A special Internet site, possibly the only one of its kind in the nation, became available for public use on Sept. 1.

It features a map of South Dakota. Users can click on any county or any community and see lists of the local providers of essential services. Those lists show whether the providers responded to a state government survey on their Y2K preparations and what the providers report they have done to prepare for the date change.

More than 3,000 of the six-question surveys were sent to providers of electricity and natural gas, law enforcement, fire protection, telephone, water and sewer, local government, financial institutions, medical care and emergency management.

The state Bureau of Information and Telecommunications, which designed and maintains the web site, received responses from 47.7 percent of the providers. The remainder who didn't return completed surveys will be listed on the web site as "failed to respond."

"Of the approximately 1,500 who have responded, nearly all reported they have identified and addressed any Y2K problems they found. That part of the survey process was very encouraging," Otto Doll, chief information officer for state government, said.

"The whole idea behind the web site was that Gov. Janklow wanted state government to provide the public with information so they can better determine for themselves their own level of comfort about Y2K in their own communities. If service providers haven't responded in their communities, now they can start asking more questions if they have concerns," Doll said.

The web site address for the Y2K readiness map of South Dakota is http://www.state

.sd.us/y2kready/.

Plans also call for making the Y2K readiness information available to non-computer users. Doll said paper copies of the report will be sent to public libraries and other community centers throughout South Dakota.

A toll-free state Y2K hotline is also available for the public to call to ask questions about Y2K computer issues. The number to call is 1-800-453-7235. The line is staffed 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Central time, Monday through Friday.

The Governor's Task Force also has a Y2K information booth at the State Fair in Huron, running this week through Labor Day.

In the responses to the survey, financial institutions such as banks, credit unions and savings and loans led the way with 76 percent responding to the survey.

The electricity and natural gas utilities were second at 74 percent. Others included law enforcement 59.3 percent, fire protection 32.8 percent, telephone 57.4 percent, water and sewer 36.8 percent, medical and health care 42.4 percent and local government 39.2 percent.

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