Advances in technology will allow new, more sophisticated ways to deliver energy and monitor its use — helping homeowners save money and decrease wasteful consumption.
However, every step forward in technology brings potential problems. The modernization of the country’s power supply, known as the smart grid, will be closely watched by cyber criminals who may want to disrupt the country’s power supply.
To minimize this possibility, a group of business executives, government officials and academics will meet Aug. 10-11 at Cal Poly Pomona to discuss a cybersecurity strategy for the smart grid. This invitation-only event hosted by the university’s College of Business Administration will include executives of major utility companies such as San Francisco’s Pacific Gas & Electric Company, San Diego’s Sempra Energy and Southern California Edison.
“We’re at a real turning point in the future of smart grid operations,” says Dan Manson, a computer information systems professor. “We need a sound cybersecurity strategy to make smart grids safe and secure. The College of Business Administration is glad to play a part in gathering important leaders to confront this issue.”
The forthcoming National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Interagency Report known as “Guidelines for Smart Grid Cyber Security” will be the main topic of discussion. The 305-page report is a product of more than a year’s worth of research as well as feedback and public reviews by the members of the NIST-led Smart Grid Inoperability Panel Cyber Security Working Group (SGIP-DSWG). The report is expected to be finalized in the next few weeks.
“Cybersecurity is vitally important to the nation’s successful transition to a smart electric power grid,” said Marianne Swanson, the NIST computer security expert recently named as the new chair of the SGIP-CSWG. “These guidelines, which are the result of a tremendous collaborative effort, are tools to help utilities, regulators, equipment manufacturers, service providers, and others assess risks and implement effective solutions.”
Once smart grid technology is in effect, businesses and households will be able to monitor their energy consumption in near-real time and use that knowledge to conserve and lower their utility bills. The new technology also will provide architecture to tap into renewable energy sources such as solar and wind in more efficient ways.
The college and its Center for Information Assurance are well-suited to host the workshop. Since 2005, Cal Poly Pomona has been named a Center of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance by the National Security Agency and the Department of Homeland Security. The university frequently collaborates with companies and institutions to provide a workforce that is highly skilled in cybersecurity.