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NIST Smart Grid and Cyber-Physical Systems Newsletter - April 2020


GCTC's SuperCluster Workshop Held on Smart Agriculture and Rural Areas Topics

The Global City Teams Challenge's (GCTC's) Smart Agriculture and Rural SuperCluster met in Phoenix, AZ, on February 18, 2020 to aid NIST’s development of a consensus-based publication, which will guide smart solutions across this domain. The workshop included broadband providers, agriculture experts including active and retired farmers, tribal community representatives, and state and federal government officials.

Workshop participants emphasized that extending broadband to many rural communities without it is vital to improving their well-being and advancing smart agriculture. However, extending broadband faces challenges due to varying terrain and local governance. Broadband providers especially need an understanding of a user community's needs. These greatly determine broadband extension over the last mile, which can mean using fiber, copper, or wireless technologies. Providers need maps showing gaps in coverage, to identify potential expansion areas. Public-private partnerships are also key to enabling this extension. Additionally, broadband and data analytics can aid smart agriculture, increasing productivity, and reducing costs and risks.

NIST will incorporate these and other findings in its smart agriculture and rural publication, with the intent of enabling replicable and scalable smart solutions across this domain. The framework will become part of NIST's series of publications called the Smart Cities and Communities Framework.

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NIST Publishes Report on GCTC SuperCluster's Exploration of Public Safety Concepts

NIST published its Special Publication (SP) 1900-203 Global City Teams Challenge Public Safety SuperCluster Progress Report 2018-2019, in March 2020. The report summarizes the SuperCluster's concept exploration and collaboration with the GCTC'S Cybersecurity and Privacy Advisory Committee ActionCluster at the following events in 2018-2019:

2018 GCTC Public Safety Workshop at NIST, Gaithersburg, MD: This workshop involved first responders and cyber security experts, and focused on public safety technologies. Findings included the following:

  • Lack of communications interoperability between relevant agencies must be resolved.
  • First responders need situational awareness; possibilities include head-mounted displays and drones.
  • Together, first responders and developers should consider future technologies for public safety.
  • Smartphone apps could aid public safety, but cybersecurity, quality, and interoperability are issues.
  • Cyber vulnerabilities should be identified and addressed.
  • Cities need cybersecurity and interoperability standards.

Simulated emergency response, George Mason University, 2019: This event examined the use of new technologies in an active shooter scenario, involving 70 firefighters, emergency medics, and law enforcement, finding that: 

  • Availability of building sensors can help responders rapidly assess the situation and find victims.
  • Wi-Fi can enable rich information data flow and first responder tracking.
  • Data security and mitigating cybersecurity attacks are seen as critical for communications.
  • Collected data can aid development of an Artificial Intelligence training system for first responders.
  • Developer participation in such events helps improve technologies

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On Measuring Smart Transportation's Risks

Connected World's April 2020 issue featured an article, IoT Connectivity Leads to Better Road Safety, which addresses how IoT connectivity improves vehicle safety in several ways. Notably, "contributing greater and more accurate awareness to vehicles, technology can indeed produce a roadway environment that exhibits better driver and driverless vehicle decisions," stated the article, referencing NIST’s Chris Greer.

The article also points out the risks, emerging with the new smart transportation technologies, as well as, how they can be addressed. “The key to managing risk is to ensure that we’re able to measure those risks reliably and accurately,” quoting Greer. The article further states, "As long as the industry considers risks and continuously looks for ways to mitigate these risks, it’s safe to assume connectivity will revolutionize road safety."

The measurement of safety is also related to this topic, as it helps manage risks. This was the focus of NIST's recent automated vehicle safety measurement workshop. Participants noted that measuring the safety of automated driving system-equipped vehicles could be based on existing approaches, but that the challenges in applying them must be addressed.

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SEPA Launched Catalog of Test Programs for Smart Grid- Relevant Standards

The Smart Electric Power Alliance (SEPA) launched the Catalog of Test Programs for smart grid-relevant standards. The Catalog provides guidance to purchases to reference test programs that are available when they procure products.  It also provides visibility for test programs to increase their usage.  The development of the Catalog of Test Programs was led by the SEPA Testing and Certification Working Group, chaired by NIST's Cuong Nguyen, and leveraged a NIST's publication on Review of Smart Grid Standards for Testing and Certification Landscape Analysis.

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NIST Staff Help Develop Common Reference Language for Procuring Smart Grid Items

To better ensure that suppliers and purchasers all speak the same language when providing and buying items for the smart grid, the Department of Energy Grid Modernization Laboratory Consortium published the report, Reference Interoperability Procurement Language. The Consortium developed the language in partnership with SEPA’s Testing and Certification Working Group, which is led by NIST’s Cuong Nguyen.

The publication highlights the importance of grid interoperability: it enables economic benefits, and lack of interoperability reduces benefits and increases costs. Thus, the publication provides a common reference language that buyers can use when procuring smart grid items, thus enabling simple and predictable integration up front, and avoiding costly and complicated integration after buying. In addition to achieving savings, this initiative seeks increased commitment to smart grid interoperability within the community. It is also intended to encourage efforts leading to greater interoperability, such as testing and certification.

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Created March 12, 2021, Updated July 30, 2021