This decade started with fear over what would happen to computers as we entered a new century. The concerns revolved around whether the programming in computers would handle the switch from the year ending in 99 to the 00 of the new century.
It was feared computers in all sorts of devices would shut down or not work. Thousands of dollars were spent on the problem and the state had its emergency management headquarters staffed and waiting on New Year’s Eve for any problems.
Those problems never materialized — but current Emergency Management Division administrator, David Miller, says all the work put into preparing for potential Y-2-K problems didn’t go to waste. Miller says it gave them a new hazard to look at, as the threat made them more aware of problems associated with technology. He says they learned a lot and are still dealing with technology threats.
Miller says the threat is not with a date change problem, but with the way technology is involved in everything we do, and how an attack on that technology, or a failure, could impact the state. He says the threat hasn’t gone away, they just look at it differently. Miller says they really started seeing how technology had advanced as a part of every day life.
He says whether it was transportation, energy or communication, they found out how invasive technology has become. Miller says the preparations for Y-2-K allowed them to address the new technology challenges as they came up. More emphasis has been put into addressing potential technology threats, but Miller says he’s not satisfied.
Miller says they never have done enough work because things are always changing with technology and there always needs to be improvement. He says they discuss it at the state level and with the private sector with the “Safeguard Iowa Partnership” — as an impact on businesses could impact the entire state.
“So it’s something that’s there, but you never have enough (preparation) and you worry about the next attack and the next event that could have a detrimental impact on the state,” Miller says. Miller was promoted to administrator of the Homeland Security Division in 2004.
(Note:this is the first of two stories on the security and safety concerns of the last decade.)