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Y2K: the biggest distraction

Y2K: the biggest distraction

New Zealand users have always been known for a tendency to acquire technology rather than solutions, in the words of IDC savant Len Rust. When Y2K struck, this tendency turned to pandemonium, Rosewarne believes. “It was the ultimate distraction.” The way Rosewarne tells it, just as New Zealand IT was collectively getting its head out from under the tech mantle, Y2K came along and slammed the collective head back into tech mechanics. Stunned, that collective head stayed there until only quite recently. Groggily, we are only now belatedly entering the post-tech era.

Rosewarne says the IT community fell swooning into the arms of the Y2K industry. For a start, he notes, the problem was never about Y2K.

“Y2K was a distraction. The problem was one of disaster recovery and should have been handled as such.”

For Rosewarne, Y2K was the culmination of our preoccupation with technology rather than with business. What he saw was a mass focus on technology rather than on the business procedures necessary for recovery planning. Other ensuing Y2K problems remain hidden beneath the surface, he believes.

During the build-up to Y2K, some of the best technical people left the user community to set up as independent consultants. Many have subsequently left the industry entirely and many went to work and live in Europe to take advantage of the greater remuneration.

Many IT managers, meanwhile, lost their longer-term vision and became focused on the short term. “Y2K got in the way of a great deal of forward thinking and caused IT managers to lose their strategic vision.”

The Y2K scare dashed aside much of the trust within both the IT and wider business sectors. Many of those at the receiving end are unlikely to forget the days when the industry cried wolf.

The new IT cop – biometrics

Air passengers are routinely required to submit their passports at point of departure so that they can be assured of getting out at the other end of their international journey.

Now this advance work is about to take the form of verifying that individuals are the people they say they are by applying facial recognition techniques to compare a human face against a database repository of those known to pose a real or potential threat. Facial recognition systems also provide an insurance against use of false images in passports.

Customs has acquired software from Imagis Technology, a Canadian developer. Rosewarne warns, however, that Customs at this stage is in experimental and “investigative” mode. He will not be drawn out on additional reasons for the purchase of the software.

One advantage of the Imagis approach is that it works across the internet and across other platforms in secure mode.

The new biometric alert and verification technique being pioneered with Imagis will become a cornerstone of the even wider profiling regime that Customs is party to under the tightening intelligence-sharing conventions.

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