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 aerospace engineering graduate student Sriramya Bhamidipati and ITI Professor Grace Gao.
Grace Gao, Sriramya Bhamidipati, and Yuting Ng won Best Presentation of the Session Award at the ION GNSS+ conference.
A 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 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.