Some Concern Voiced Over Air Travel, Banking
While a majority of Americans think computer mistakes due to the Year-2000 issue will cause only minor problems for themselves or in general, nearly half surveyed said they would avoid travelling on airplanes on or around January 1, 2000, and nearly two-thirds said they would seek extra confirmation of bank account, retirement fund or other financial records, according to a recent Gallup poll.
The nationwide telephone poll, released by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and USA Today, surveyed 1,032 adults between December 9 and 13. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus three percentage points.
"This poll shows much of the American public is aware of possible Year 2000 computer mistakes," said George Strawn, NSF's Computer Networking Division Director.
"This underscores how truly integrated computers already are in our everyday lives, and how much we depend on them. With a full year before the Year 2000, American industry, government and academia are largely aware of what they need to do be fully prepared. We hope this poll helps raise the American public's awareness of the Year 2000 issue and encourages greater computer literacy," Strawn added.
Nearly 80% of poll respondents say they have seen or heard "some or a great deal" about the Year 2000 computer problem, sometimes called the "Y2K bug," which arises from computers that are improperly programmed to comprehend a computer's date field correctly. Other key poll findings include:
More than two-thirds of those polled believe "Y2K" computer problems will last from several weeks to several months, and possibly as long as a year;
46% say some air traffic control systems will fail, putting air travel in jeopardy;
Nearly two-thirds of respondents say banking and accounting systems will fail, possibly causing errors in employee paychecks, government payments or other automated financial transactions;
Over one-third of those polled say city or county emergency "911" communications systems will fail, possibly putting citizens at risk;
An equal number of respondents (49%) say they plan to take steps to make sure their personal computers are programmed correctly as those who say they will wait and see what happens to their computers;
Over half of the respondents say they believe their employers are taking sufficient steps to correct any problems they might face because of Y2K problems; 32% or just under one-third of those polled say they are not sure their employers are taking sufficient steps to correct workplace Y2K problems;
76% of those polled say they are not confident foreign governments in Third World or other less developed countries have upgraded their computer systems to prevent "Y2K" problems from occurring. Despite media accounts of some Americans who are now preparing for food delivery or water systems to fail, the poll found:
* 72% of those polled say they will not or do not plan to stockpile food or water;
* Over 80% of respondents say they do not plan to buy generators or wood stoves;
* More than eight out of ten say they will not withdraw all their money from the bank;
* More than half (55%) say the "Y2K" bug will cause only minor problems in the economy and that "Y2K" will cause only minor general disruptions and inconveniences;
* More than two-thirds say they are confident the U.S. government, including all federal offices and agencies, and their state and local governments currently have efforts underway to upgrade computer systems in order to correct the "Y2K" computer problem;
* 82% say they have confidence U.S. corporations and large businesses will have upgraded their computer systems to correct "Y2K" problems.
NSF is an independent federal agency responsible for funding more than $3.5 billion annually of research and education in science and engineering.
The USA Today/Gallup Poll: Americans and the Y2K Millennium Computer Bug Final Topline Results are available at http://www.nsf.gov/od/lpa/events/fow/y2k/y2ktopline.htm.
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