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Preventing blackouts in future virtual utilities

Researchers have developed an accident diagnosis and repair model necessary to realise dependable ICT (Information & Communications Technology) support of power grid operations.

Energy

The reliability and vulnerability of all electrical power grids was called into question when the big 2003 blackouts occurred worldwide. As a result, many cities experienced an emergency situation. Airports were shut down, business closed, and trains stopped mid-tunnel as cities came to a grinding halt. The CRISP project was set up to investigate how advanced ICT intelligence can be utilised in the management of power networks, namely in the utilities sector and how to safeguard it. This greatly expanded the insight into the performance, safety and security in the architecture of such highly distributed power networks. The reason for this was that it does not purely look at technical availability and functionality, but integrates economic cost-benefit considerations as well. The researchers set up an investigation to revisit the 2003 blackouts in order to assess the best way to safeguard operations of future virtual utilities. The CRISP experiments are split into three scenarios from which the benefits and challenges of future virtual utilities were drawn up. Securing trustworthy operations in order to avoid blackouts needs to ensure security from a technical operations side. An accident diagnosis and repair model was proposed, suitable for the complex socio-technical system envisaged for future cell-based virtual utilities. Furthermore, the researchers developed an experimental platform for security and performance experiments. This represents developments of secure execution environments and a service-orientated architecture supporting dependable cell-based utilities.

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