Security risks associated with networked control systems, such as a Smart Grid, can be significantly impacted by human interaction. One LDRD project explored how establishing clear goals for the interaction between human operators and control systems can allow operators to respond more calmly and efficiently to natural or malicious events. The team developed metrics and models to test and improve levels of state awareness among the operators, with the result being more effective decision-making in the face of various potential situations.
Another way to improve operating procedures may be to remove the human element altogether. A second LDRD project looked at increasing the autonomy of Microgrids, which are small, local electric grids like those used by universities and military bases. It is not cost-effective to staff such small grids, but current Microgrid designs lack self-governing capabilities. The team developed a control system called a hierarchical, multiagent dynamic system, that is semi-autonomous and adaptive to rapidly changing conditions. Though this project focused on Microgrids, the framework can be applied to provide increased independence to various critical infrastructure control systems (project 12-089).
The Real-Time Data Simulator at INL supports studies of how new technologies affect power grid dynamics and how ground induced currents from solar storms could affect or damage power grids.