New service a hotline on Y2K problems |

New service a hotline on Y2K problems

Amanda Hammon

One small, black box sitting in a cool room at City Hall holds a wealth of information for Carson City residents.

The box is an industrial computer and it holds the information for the city’s new phone information system. The $31,000 system is designed to answer the most frequently asked questions residents have about city government.

“It’s another way to quickly get a lot of information to the community,” City Manager John Berkich. “The system allows us to communicate with the public when they’re looking for information.”

Information covering everything from animals and building permits to health services and the sheriff’s department is available through the Carson City Connection 24 hours a day, seven days a week- but only with a touch-tone phone and a little patience.

The city’s information services department is in the midst of publishing the complete list of almost 200 messages available on the system. The list of codes should be available by Oct. 25, but the city has printed fliers with Y2K-related codes which are available at City Hall. City officials want users to call the system to get answers to Y2K-related questions, which are also recorded in Spanish. Call the Carson City Connection at 887-2138.

Without the list of codes, users will wade through a list of 28 options to find the area for which they need information. Under the section Building and Construction, for example, there are 14 choices from how to get a building permit to regulations for installing wood stoves.

Pressing 185 for how to get a building permit offers information from necessary phone numbers and addresses to how many sets of plans are required for homes versus commercial applications.

Under emergency preparedness, pressing 393 offers tips on what to do during a winter storm. It advises that overexertion can kill and you should do stretching exercises before shoveling snow.

The user can make up to four selections before being cut off. The system also has a feature that can fax information. Not all messages can be faxed, but faxing instructions follow messages that can.

Eventually the system will evolve into an interactive voice response system which responds similar to phone banking. If a number for a building permit is entered, the system will bring up the information for that permit, said city Information Services Director Bill Naylor.

Farther into the future, the whole system will be connected to the Internet. It should be available by 2001.

Naylor said it has taken a year to collect information and get the system working. He added that Carson City may be the only city in the nation posting Y2K information on a 24-hour phone line. The automated citizen information system is used by more than 100 other cities in the U.S. including Atlanta, Ga., and Columbia, Mo.

Call the Carson City Connection at 887-2138. Fliers with all codes will be available by Oct. 25 at City Hall, 201 N. Carson Street, the Community Center, 851 E. William St., Carson City Library, 900 N. Roop St.

Y2K messages and code number:

General emergency services 970

Emergency alert system 971

Utility compliance 972

Vital city & personal records 973

Home preparedness kits 974

Medical issues 975

Sheriff’s & fire departments 976

Seniors/shelters/latchkey services 977

Who’s susceptible to the Y2K bug? 978

Y2K readiness disclosure statement 979