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NIST Researchers Propose Method for Modeling Smart Sensor Interoperability in Smart Grids

Getting all the gadgets and gizmos on the same page

Published: Tuesday, May 10, 2022 - 12:02

Smart sensors play a critical role in smart grids, supporting bidirectional flows of energy. Such sensors are needed for real-time monitoring of energy flow; controlling power generation, transmission, and distribution to customers; and protecting the overall power systems.

However, the interoperability of smart sensors is an issue, due to the number of different manufacturers employing various interface protocols in their products.

To help address the interoperability issue, NIST researchers propose “A Methodology for Modeling Interoperability of Smart Sensors in Smart Grids,” recently published on IEEE Xplore. The modeling methodology is based on interactions, using labeled transition systems and finite-state process techniques to quantitatively and automatically measure and assess smart sensors’ interoperability. Any interoperability issues can be identified based on the assessment results, and ultimately resolved to improve sensor data interoperability in smart grids.

The methodology is used to build an interoperability model of synchronous message passing from a sender to a receiver. This model can be used to assess interoperability between the sender and receiver. The paper also provides a use case study, showing that this methodology and interoperability model work with the IEEE C37.118 phasor measurement unit-based smart sensors and phasor data concentrators. This methodology can also be applied to modeling interoperability of smart sensors, based on other standard communication protocols.

The interoperability model, built based on the methodology, is intended to help manufacturers, developers, and test laboratories assess the interoperability of smart sensors.

First published Feb. 19, 2022, on NIST News.


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Founded in 1901, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is a nonregulatory federal agency within the U.S. Department of Commerce. Headquartered in Gaithersburg, Maryland, NIST’s mission is to promote U.S. innovation and industrial competitiveness by advancing measurement science, standards, and technology in ways that enhance economic security and improve our quality of life.