Collaborative Research: Enhancing Access to Radio Spectrum for Real-time Monitoring and Control

Project: Research project

Project Details


Wireless networking is a promising technology for meeting future needs for Real-Time Monitoring and Control (RMTC) of critical infrastructures and systems. Future trends toward intelligent infrastructure systems, such as the Smart Grid, Intelligent Transportation Systems, unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), and environmental monitoring systems, give rise to the need for reliable communications for real-time monitoring and control operations. Such systems will include thousands to millions of nodes that need to be monitored and controlled on a regular basis, and wireless technology may well be the only viable option for meeting their communication requirements. Yet, radio spectrum is already a rather scarce resource, thus allocating dedicated bandwidth for meeting emerging requirements for monitoring and control may not be a viable option. In this proposal we explore the use of shared spectrum for monitoring and control of critical infrastructures and systems. As an example of the type of applications we have in mind consider, for example, the power system. While current power systems are designed to operate based on electromechanical principles with or without the aid of communications, economic pressures push power systems toward increasingly cyber-physical designs. Special Protection Schemes (SPS), and frequency control systems, rely on communications for recovering from failures [1–3]. Synchronized phasor measurement (PMU) systems, which critically rely on cyber infrastructure, are increasingly being used to support complex wide-area measurement and control schemes. Finally, as intermittent renewables play an increasingly important role in power systems, cyber-enabled real-time controls become increasingly important. While control of the power grid traditionally depends on Supervisory Control And Data Acquisition (SCADA) systems, increasingly power control systems have come to rely on other modalities for communications, including various forms of wireless technologies [4]. In particular, wireless technology can provide a low-cost solution for networking a large number of devices (e.g., smart meters), without the need for extensive investment in wired network infrastructure. Another example are the emerging civil unmanned aircraft systems (UAS). In its 2013 roadmap, the Federal Aviation Administration highlighted the wide-range of emerging civil applications of UAS: from areal photography to cargo transport and environmental monitoring [5]; and companies such as Amazon are even exploring the use of UAS for package delivery systems [6]. Safe operation of the emerging civil UAS will depend on real-time communications and control, including both line-of-sight and beyond line-of-sight communications. Though international agreement has been reached to provide some harmonized spectrum for line-of-sight UAS control links, the roadmap highlights the need for additional spectrum to meet these emerging requirements [5]. While the bandwidth and communication requirements of such systems are still a subject of research, they are likely to include stringent latency and reliability requirements. While these emerging applications are still in their infancy, it is clear that their communication requirements are likely to exceed what is presently possible with existing technologies and spectrum allocations. However, as we have noted earlier, it is unlikely that a sufficient amount of new dedicated spectrum will be reserved for such intermittent applications. A way forward is for these applications to use shared spectr
Effective start/end date9/1/158/31/19


  • National Science Foundation (AST-1547328 )


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