New Zealand Will Be First To Report Any Computer Bugs in 2000

By Bob Melvin | July 7, 2008 | 8:07 PM EDT

( - The first industrialized nation to ring in the New Year, New Zealand, will keep foreign governments informed if it suffers millennium computer "bug" problems, according to the country's Y2K Readiness Commission.

New Zealand is seen as an important test case for potential Y2K computer problems because it starts the year 2000 18 hours ahead of Great Britain and five hours or so ahead of many of its Asian neighbors.

The Y2K Readiness Commission, an advisory body, said the world will be watching the South Pacific nation of 3.8 million people as clocks strike midnight on December 31st.

"We have made arrangements to supply information not only to the New Zealand public and media but also to the foreign governments and the world media," commission chairman Basil Logan said in a prepared statement.

Reuters reports that foreign companies already have made plans to monitor developments in New Zealand in the "follow the sun" initiative to get a first glimpse of what might happen in their own markets.

The commission will issue information on its computer operations at regular intervals on how New Zealand is progressing, starting from 1 a.m. on January 1st (4 a.m. Pacific Time, December 31st). Information on New Zealand's Y2K performance will be posted on the Readiness Commission's Web site.

The information will also be reproduced on the Web site of the Global Status Center set up under the United Nations. That site will also show information on up to 170 other countries.

Logan said New Zealand is "comparatively well-prepared for any possible Y2K interruptions," but he added that issues could surface sometime after January 1st.

The commission has warned that there might be localized interruptions for up to three days in some essential services at any time through March 31st. Computers that are not Y2K-compliant could read the year 2000 as the year 1900, resulting in mistakes or shutdowns.