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Bob Braden, University of Southern California (USC) Information Sciences Institute (ISI) Fellow and Project Leader, attended the Working Group (WG) meeting of NASPI (North American SynchroPhasor Initiative) in Huntington Beach, California on February 20 - 21, 2013. This Working Group includes several hundred electrical engineers (EEs) and a few computer scientists, working towards standardization and deployment of instrumentation for monitoring and control of electric power transmission grids around the world. Their goal is a significant increase in reliability and efficiency of high voltage transmission. It is a part of a technical revolution that has sprung upon a technologically backwards industry, the "smart grid". This is a big deal. One fascinating session, at the meeting, analyzed the major regional blackout events in the past 10 years. The general conclusion was that the fine-grained instrumentation being planned by this Working Group should prevent many future blackouts, which are very costly to society as well as the utilities themselves.
A synchrophasor is a measurement of the electrical state -- e.g., voltage, current, and frequency -- at a specific point in the electric power grid, repeating typically 60 times per second. "Synchro" refers to the use of GPS to time-synchronize these measurements, so collectively they provide an accurate and consistent picture of the grid state. The synchrophasor data is streamed over a computer network ("NASPInet") to a central control center for processing, to drive visual displays for the operators. The design of NASPInet and its relation to the Internet present interesting issues on internetwork architecture.
The power grid is critical infrastructure, and the monitoring and control functions considered by the NASPI meetings form a cyber-physical system. Bob Braden has been attending NASPI meetings to promote the use of DeterLab for testing the proposed cyber-physical system architectures at moderate scale. Within the Data Networking and Management Task Team (DNMTT) of the NASPI Working Group, Bob presented DeterLab, and has described early experiments with DeterLab for testing middleware for synchrophasor data collection. At the February NASPI meeting, he presented a talk entitled "An InterNut Looks at NASPInet". This slide presentation summarized the key meta-principles behind Internet protocol design, and it presented Bob's perspective on NASPInet as a computer scientist with extensive Internet experience.
For more information on DeterLab, visit: www.project-deter.org