Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Official websites use .gov
A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.

Secure .gov websites use HTTPS
A lock ( ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Timing Infrastructure

Timing Infrastructure


Achieving correct timing is a key technology enabler in a cyber-physical system. Synchronized timing serves as the fundamental basis for accurate distributed measurement, rapid data fusion, as well as, timely and seamless coordination and control of ad-hoc, heterogeneous CPS nodes. The challenges lie in the ability to: (a) create a timing infrastructure that is traceable and accurate over a range of spatial and temporal scales, (b) ensure reliable and resilient system time, and (c) ensure reliable and bounded timeliness in system functions. The project objective is to collaborate with stakeholders in developing metrics, standards and uncertainty analysis/reduction methodologies needed to support assured time awareness in CPS, with a focus on advancing power systems capabilities.

Industry Need Addressed

In the power grid today, the quality of distributed measurements cannot be relied upon for real-time control. A key limitation is the ability to trust the timing. GPS can be compromised, either maliciously by jamming or spoofing or unintentionally, due to space weather effects, impacting the accuracy and timeliness of state estimation in the grid. Achieving accurate state estimation requires corroboration with other sources of data; therefore limiting the ability to execute fully automated control actions in real-time. Stakeholders from the power industry and other CPS domains have identified the need for a secure and resilient timing infrastructure.

NIST Approach

NIST/ITL in conjunction with NIST/PML, is collaborating with key stakeholders to develop standards, metrics, and methodologies for establishing a secure and resilient timing infrastructure. Within the NIST Smart Grid effort, we are supporting the development of conformance and interoperability test methodologies for the IEEE 1588 Power Profile. We are extending the Precision Timing Testbed to encompass Smart Grid and other CPS capabilities in order to establish an experimental facility for exploring and developing system timing performance metrology capabilities. The testbed will also provide a venue for exploring methodologies to achieve resilient timing in device, system and networks through exploration of ensembling techniques and network technologies such as Software Defined Networking (SDN) and Byzantine fault-tolerant algorithms. Once the timing performance metrics, linguistics, and measurement capabilities needed to characterize the sources of timing uncertainty are developed, we plan to explore methodologies to assess the impact of timing uncertainty on measurement and control performance in CPS.


The ability to explore, develop, test, and validate secure and resilient timing in a computing node, system and network will be essential to enabling key technologies requiring distributed measurement, wide-area state estimation and fully automated real-time control coordination. In the Smart Grid, establishing the metrics, standards and methodologies for a secure and resilient timing infrastructure will enable unprecedented system awareness, coordination and resiliency.

Created July 8, 2015, Updated August 25, 2016