Secretary of Commerce William M. Daley today urged American businesses to redouble their efforts to test for year 2000 computer problems that are hidden away in a variety of machines other than computers. Thorough testing of these "embedded systems" is a wise safety measure, Daley said.
"Ferreting out all the Y2K connections in the systems that run manufacturing plants, provide services to consumers, and control a host of operations that we all rely on is a tough job. We urge businesses to be especially vigilant in testing embedded systems," Daley said.
Embedded systems use computers or computer chips to control, monitor or augment a process. Such systems are found in everything from elevators to manufacturing plants.
The Commerce Department's National Institute of Standards and Technology and Century Corp., a computer consulting firm, have assessed the range of testing methods industry is using.
They conclude that it is possible that many important systems have not been tested adequately. NIST strongly recommends that all critical systems be tested literally from end to end.
"Managers of these systems should, as a last resort, rely on assurances from suppliers and others that the individual components of a system are Y2K compliant," Daley said. "I want to reinforce the message that I and others, including the President's Y2K Council, have been delivering about taking appropriate actions in readiness and contingency planning," he said.
A research article that includes guidelines for testing embedded systems by NIST and Century Corp. is available on the NIST web site.
As a non-regulatory agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce's Technology Administration, NIST strengthens the U.S. economy and improves the quality of life by working with industry to develop and apply technology, measurements and standards through four partnerships: the Measurement and Standards Laboratories, the Advanced Technology Program, the Manufacturing Extension Partnership and the Baldrige National Quality Program.