Talking After Lights Out: An Ad Hoc Network for Electric Grid Recovery

02/11/2021 ∙ by Jan Janak, et al. ∙ 0

When the electric grid in a region suffers a major outage, e.g., after a catastrophic cyber attack, a "black start" may be required, where the grid is slowly restarted, carefully and incrementally adding generating capacity and demand. To ensure safe and effective black start, the grid control center has to be able to communicate with field personnel and with supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) systems. Voice and text communication are particularly critical. As part of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) Rapid Attack Detection, Isolation, and Characterization Systems (RADICS) program, we designed, tested and evaluated a self-configuring mesh network architecture and prototype called the Phoenix Secure Emergency Network (PhoenixSEN). PhoenixSEN is designed as a drop-in replacement for primary communication networks, combines existing and new technologies, can work with a variety of link-layer protocols, emphasizes manageability and auto-configuration, and provides a core set of services and applications for coordination of people and devices including voice, text, and SCADA communication. The PhoenixSEN prototype was evaluated in the field through a series of DARPA-led exercises. The same system is also likely to support coordination of recovery efforts after large-scale natural disasters.

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