Talking Point
Bugtown UK

For a modern, developed country with the fifth or sixth largest economy in the world, Italy got its Y2K preparations in gear relatively late in the day.

The official body created to deal with Y2K met for the first time only in February 1999. Its head, Enrico Bettinelli, estimated that with months to go before the end of the year only 15% of Italians knew what the millennium bug was and only 20% thought it a serious problem.

According to a UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office report in December, an emergency control centre has now been set up at the offices of the Intelligence and Military Security Service on the outskirts of Rome.

On New Year's Eve a team of senior government officials will be deployed there with representatives from the main utility companies, the railways, civil aviation authority, air traffic controllers and airports.

The Italian airline Alitalia says its systems and aircraft were Y2K compliant by 31 October 1999, and it will keep its planes flying on Millennium Eve.

Italy’s main oil and gas producer, The ENI Group says all critical systems in its supply chain were compliant by 30 November 1999. Much of Italy's gas is piped from Algeria or Russia but ENI says there are sufficient reserves in Italy in case of problems with foreign suppliers.

Extra pressure on resources

One particular worry which Italy will have to deal with is the large number of visitors expected for the millennium celebrations.

Rome is the focus for the world's one billion Catholics who will celebrate the 2,000th anniversary of the birth of Christ.

Up to 25 million are expected to make a pilgrimage to Rome at some point in the year 2000. Many will arrive by air.

 Compliances Rate 67% (Gartner)
 Gartner Infastructure Problem
 Distribution  Impact
 Power  Isolated  Moderate
 Phones  Isolated  Minor
 Gas  Isolated  Moderate
 Air  Isolated  Moderate
 Oil  Isolated  Moderate
 Food  Isolated  Minor
 Water  Isolated  Minor
 Govt  Moderate  Moderate
 Banks  Isolated  Minor
 Unrest  Isolated  Minor
 Trade  Isolated  Severe
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Ringing in the new millennium | Witness | Speaking for the century | Millennium diaries | What happened next? | Y2k | Review of the year | Your millennium | Talking Point