GT: I assume that you're reasonably sure about your city government's readiness for Y2K. But what about the rest of the community in Fort Worth: the businesses, schools and hospitals? How concerned are you about their preparations?
Di Paolo: Well, the government can succeed and the community can still fail!
It's a community issue and larger than any one organization -- public or private. We're concerned; we want the Fort Worth School District to succeed. We try to share everything we have with anyone we can. There aren't a lot of general-purpose forums. It tends to be a one-on-one sharing.
Since this is a once-in-a-lifetime project, there aren't a lot of organizations that have been built up, because they will be disbanded once it's over.
I think the community in general is working on it. The newspapers have been publishing articles and specifics of what different companies are doing and spending on this issue. There's a large community awareness of this issue. We have a lot of technology companies in this area that use a lot of technology, whether its Sabre Systems or American Airlines or Tandy Corp. or whoever. Those kinds of stories are published in the business section of the newspaper very frequently.
But there is no community plan. I need to be straightforward on that.
GT: Is Y2K the single biggest issue your fellow CIOs and IT directors are concerned about?
Di Paolo: We're really trying to do two or three different things. The year 2000 has clearly taken our focus, and Bob [Terrell] has explained to our City Council that there are a lot of technology projects we would like to attack, but we are going to wait until we get the year-2000 issue under our belt. So we have postponed at least one large-scale project that I can name for our court system in order to carry out year-2000 work. That's clearly a focus, because we have to get this right. And that's a matter of survival -- for the government, for the citizens, for everyone.
In another sense, we are trying to get our hands around the possibilities presented by technology. There are so many choices and so many different directions to go that it's extremely difficult to pick a path and stay on it for any extended period of time. The technologies are changing so rapidly.
We're all trying to deal with the Internet, and it's essentially overwhelming the way things are currently done. Here in Fort Worth, we are looking at client/server technology as being a Web-based client. Not the traditional client with specialized software sitting on the PC. We're calling it a Web-browser client.
Should we not just put applications on there and assume the Internet is going to be the media of delivery in the future because it's so pervasive? It is a fundamental change in the way computing has been done since the beginning. Computing has always been application and machine centric; you could add network centric.
But the Internet transcends that. It has no geography. It's placeless. It has no time or place. So it's a fundamentally different way of looking at things. So that's another issue we're trying to deal with.
We're trying to get ourselves on the same paths as the business units. That's another key area. That really depends on the local government and how the technology is organized. We have a very clear direction from the city manager here to get aligned with the business and make sure we're moving down the same path. For instance, if four different departments want to put kiosks out for one reason or another, it happens as a "kiosk" project and not as a "department" project.
We also need to look across the organization as