Bhamidipati won best presentation award on improving power grid security and reliability through GPS timing

Thursday, December 1, 2016 - 10:00am

Using multiple GPS systems to track power grid activity is a diagnostic tool that has the ability to protect and strengthen the security of our power grid, according to recent research by Illinois aerospace engineering graduate student Sriramya Bhamidipati and Professor Grace Gao.

Photo of award winning research teamA GPS-based system records and analyzes the timing and flow for phasor measurement units (PMUs), which regulates and controls power systems. Power outages because of system failures or cyberattacks are a constant threat to our grid, and this system could help alert to issues quickly in order prevent outages.

“This control and information of electricity levels helps keep any errors or unusual behavior in check,” said Bhamidipati.

Bhamidipati and Gao, along with Yuting Ng, presented this work at the ION GNSS+ conference, the largest GPS annual conference, and won Best Presentation of the Session Award.

According to their technique, there are multiple GPS receiving points at each power substation, and this signal diversity provides more checkpoints for security. Each GPS points communicates with satellites to provide detailed time stamps for electricity movements.

The advantages of this system are the global coverage GPS signals provide, and that GPS signals are freely available. GPS signals, however, are vulnerable to jamming and spoofing attacks, which is why this method incorporates multiple receivers and various locations to strengthen the signal.

“When we combine GPS signals, it results in a single, stronger signal with a robust time transfer technique that can mitigate the effect of external attacks and improve tolerance against interference,” said Bhamidipati.

The team, which is part of the Cyber Resilient Energy Delivery Consortium (CREDC), will continue to develop the robustness of the system, providing more precise electricity measurements to inform power grid service workers of any irregularities or disturbances.The presentation was based on the paper "Multi-Receiver GPS-based Direct Time Estimation for PMUs" which is part of their CREDC research focused on robust and secure GPS-based timing for power systems.

Source: Coordinated Science Lab