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NIST Smart Grid and Cyber-Physical Systems Newsletter - March 2019

Wanted: Smart Grid Testbed Researchers and Operators to Present and Discuss in NIST Workshops

NIST invites Smart Grid testbed researchers and operators to participate in a discussion of collaboration across testbeds. Three one-day workshops, free and open to the public, will each consist of a brief presentation on the NIST Smart Grid Testbed project, followed by representatives of other facilities presenting information and capabilities of their testbeds, and discussions around opportunities for progress through collaboration. Several events are scheduled at different locations around the country:

  • University of Tennessee in Knoxville, TN, April 11, 2019. Register online.
  • University of Vermont in Burlington, VT, April 23, 2019. Register online.
  • Electric Power Research Institute in Palo Alto, CA, April 30, 2019. Register online.

These one-day workshops will consist of a brief presentation on the NIST Smart Grid Testbed project, followed by other facilities' representatives presenting on their testbeds, and then subsequent discussions.

These workshops will explore existing and future smart grid testbed capabilities. They also will examine ways to develop a collaborative environment across testbeds, through sharing information, leveraging resources, scaling experiments, and other forms of cooperation. Workshops are free and open to the public. For more information contact boynton [at] (Paul Boynton).

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Plan to Be There: Smart and Secure Cities and Communities Challenge Expo, July 10-12, 2019

NIST and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate invite smart city stakeholders to the Smart and Secure Cities and Communities Challenge Expo at the Walter E Washington Convention Center in Washington DC, July 10-12, 2019. The Expo will include representatives from other Federal agencies, industry, academia, cities and communities around the world. Registration is free, required for attendance, and instructions are online. A preliminary agenda is also online and will be updated.

The expo will showcase:

  • Best practices and exhibits from Global City Teams Challenge's Action Clusters and SuperClusters;
  • Exhibits from technology providers, working on smart city and Internet of Things solutions;
  • Keynotes addresses from leaders in government, industry and academia; and
  • Panel discussions.

Please visit the 2019 GCTC/SC3 Expo website or contact  sokwoo.rhee [at] (Sokwoo Rhee) for more information.

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New NIST Pub Clarifies Cyber-Physical Systems and Internet-of Things Relationship

In March 2019, NIST released its Special Publication 1900-202, Cyber-Physical Systems and Internet of Things, providing a unified perspective that helps to clarify their relationship and identifies a common emphasis on hybrid systems of interacting digital, analog, physical and human components, in systems engineered for function through integrated physics and logic. The document describes the origins of the terms CPS and IoT, and analyzes the range of definitions over time.

The publication explains that effectively designing, building, and assuring CPS/IoT systems requires consideration of the system’s functional context, including how the system is used and for what purpose or outcome. CPS and IOT commonality is illustrated with the graphic to the right, with logical realms (top half of circle), including information processes enabled by computer and information sciences and engineering, and physical realms (lower half of circle), with engineered systems and energy processes. Transducers – sensors and actuators – tightly integrate both realms. Additionally, humans interact with CPS and IoT both as physical and logical entities, while providing transduction through thought and action.

The benefits of a common perspective on CPS and IoT include:

  • Developing common classifications, illuminating a path for open composability and reliable compositionality;
  • Bringing together isolated fields and sectors for shared research, application, and innovation goals;
  • Helping prioritize research, development, and deployment goals; and
  • Enabling new methods for conceptualizing, realizing and assuring CPS/IoT.

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IEC Approves Standard for Automated Demand Response – with NIST Leadership

In November 2018, the International Electrotechnical Commission approved IEC 62746-10-1:2018, a standard for automated communications between utilities, and commercial and residential facilities, which consume about 73 percent of all electricity, according to the Department of Energy's Electric Power Monthly, December 2018. Termed, "Open Automated Demand Response," or OpenADR, this communication allows energy providers to signal when electricity is high in demand – and cost – giving customers the opportunity to adjust their use. This helps balance electricity generation and demand, enabling savings at both ends. OpenADR is also facilitating grid integration of rapidly increasing distributed energy resources, like wind and solar generation.

Over a seven-year period, NIST staff leadership aided the IEC's establishment of the OpenADR standard. NIST's David Holmberg headed Working Group 2, Power Demand Response, in the IEC's Project Committee 118  – the IEC's first project committee – which developed the standard. NIST's Steven Bushby, headed the US technical advisory group to PC 118, and served as head of the US delegation throughout the process.

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New NIST Pub Details its Toolset for Testing Smart Grid Interoperability

In February 2019, NIST released its publication, NIST Smart Grid Interoperability Test Tools. The toolset can generate test signals and capture, analyze and visualize data from multiple smart grid intelligent electronic devices. The tools' capabilities include:

  • Simulating a power system and its signal generation capabilities;
  • Monitoring clock synchronization of networked devices, to maximize their compatibility; and
  • Verifying interoperability of sensors and controllers' Sampled Value messages, per IEC 61850.

NIST installed the hardware and software for these tools in a portable harness to support interoperability testing in the field and in its testbed. The toolset is intended to improve test methodologies, as well as standards. This development is in keeping with NIST's roles of advancing metrology and aiding development of test methodologies that objectively assess smart grid device performance. NIST deployed the toolset during its participation in the Utility Communication Architecture International User Group Interoperability Test Event in New Orleans, LA, October 14-19, 2017.

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New NIST Pub Describes Calibrating Accurate Timing in CPS

NIST's A Calibration of Timing Accuracy in the NIST Cyber-Physical Systems Testbed, published December 2018, shows that timing differences can be measured, accurately predicted, and offset in CPS.  

Whether it's a smart grid or a smart building, all cyber-physical systems depend on accurate timing. Timing enables sensor fusion, proper sequencing of events, meaningful measurements, and more. NIST's Timing Challenges for the Smart Grid, January 2017, assessed the difficulties. Cyber-physical systems must synchronize their operations with Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) – especially challenging for widely distributed CPS and those comprised of systems with different owners. Such CPS must predict UTC across the enterprise, which can result in uncertainties in operations and measurements. NIST has developed a methodology to measure timing uncertainty in its CPS testbed. Researchers measured timing signals from NIST UTC in Boulder, CO, to commercially available GPS receivers, down to device timing performance at NIST, Gaithersburg, MD; this included measuring timestamping latency and variation. NIST is reporting the following results:

  • An uncertainty of 16 nanoseconds for GPS receivers to UTC(NIST)
  • Synchronized timing differences at testbed locations of 36 nanoseconds, with an uncertainty of ± 6 nanoseconds
  • Time errors for devices of 50 microseconds, with an uncertainty of ± 10 microseconds
  • Timestamping errors of 8 milliseconds, with an uncertainty of ± 500 nanoseconds

The December 2018 publication details the methodology and findings of this research.

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Created May 17, 2019, Updated January 8, 2024