Networks safe and sound
Communication networks are becoming more sophisticated and intelligent, while the challenges that come from such advancement – including technical complications and security threats – are also growing. One type of communication system is the networked control system (NCS) which interfaces between cyberspace and real space. This applies to network applications such as medical monitoring, security systems, traffic control, energy distribution and much more. The sheer scale and/or importance of such systems requires them to be secure and dependable at all times. Industry, business, health and government all depend on them to run seamlessly and effectively. There is a pressing need for advanced design/analysis tools and for effective monitoring and control of these evolving systems. There is also a need to develop effective methodologies for diagnosing faults and to operate these complex systems in uncertain environments such as technical constraints, faults or threats. This includes design inconsistencies, component malfunctions and communication delays or lapses, as well as hackers or operators who abuse the system. Such scenarios can lead to major loss in efficiency, compromised safety and increased costs. The EU-funded 'Resilient networked control systems' (ResilientNetControl) project is addressing these concerns by establishing techniques for monitoring and diagnosing faults or abnormal behaviour in these systems. It is also developing strategies for networked control systems to ensure resiliency and privacy. The project is facilitating the development of a new body of research knowledge by combining the fields of electrical engineering, computer science and applied mathematics, which will address fault diagnosis, supervisory control, system-level diagnosis and more. The successful completion of this initiative will have far-reaching ramifications for testing, monitoring, maintaining and controlling such complex systems. It will allow automation of detection and control mechanisms that lead to resilient and safe operation of these networks, despite disruptions. The project is considering the cost-benefit ratio of these improvements, studying supervisory control strategies, investigating the incidence of errors and working on diagnosis. It will outline a strategy for security and improvement from the emerging results, ultimately creating safer, more dependable systems and networks that power our society.