Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Can IEC 61850-7-2 Edition 2 be used to build Agents?

There are more and more discussions on the question if IEC 61850 could be applied to build an Agent. Some understand this as IEC 61850 versus Agent.

What is an Agent? There are as many answers when you ask experts.

I found a very interesting definition of an (special) Agent on Wikipedia:

Monitoring and surveillance agents (also known as predictive agents) are a type of intelligent agent software that observes and reports on computer equipment. Monitoring and surveillance agents are often used to monitor complex computer networks to predict when a crash or some other defect may occur. Another type of monitoring and surveillance agent works on computer networks keeping track of the configuration of each computer connected to the network. It tracks and updates the central configuration database when anything on any computer changes, such as the number or type of disk drives. An important task in managing networks lies in prioritizing traffic and shaping bandwidth.”

More generally Wikipedia provides a definition of an Agent:

“In computer science, a software agent is a piece of software that acts for a user or other program”.

IEC 61850 can be used for many applications: Protection and Control in Substations, SCADA, monitoring any simple and complex computer based applications in the (power system) Automation or assets like transformer, etc. This covers also network components like Ethernet Switches – there is work underway to model the network management MIB onto Logical Nodes and DataObjects and use the IEC 61850 services!. An IEC 61850 Server can act for a Client (and its User – a person or program). Crucial characteristics of Agents can be found in IEC 61850, too. You are not (yet) convinced!?

Let me point to the Edition 2 of IEC 61850-7-2 (ACSI) published in August 2010. What is new there? A lot great stuff for more secure systems!

Edition 1 had already the service model of Reporting and Logging observing (monitoring) application information like status or limit violations – allowing to send and log spontaneous events. There was also a possibility to monitor attributes of the various control blocks (Reporting, Logging, GOOSE, SMV); allowing to report or log the enable request of a control block. This last application has been extended in Edition 2 to keeping track of all ACSI services.

Edition 2 of IEC 61850-7-2 introduces the concept of the Service tracking in clause 14:

The reporting and logging functions of process and function related data objects as defined in Edition 1 of IEC 61850-7-x and IEC 61400-25-2 are extended in Edition 2 of IEC 61850-7-2 to keep track of changes, event, or actions in the process related information modeled as Logical Nodes and DataObjects. IEC 61850-7-2 Edition 2 provides the possibility to keep track of all services, even those with negative responses. The services are classified as follows:

  • Control block related services
  • Command related services
  • Other services

IEC 61850-7-2 Edition 2 defines additional specific common data classes for each type of service to be reported or logged. For a given Server, a single data object instance (tracking data object) needs to be instantiated in the object model for each kind of service, that will mirror the value of the service parameters exchanged and its acceptance by the server. This allows that a service can be logged or reported to any client. This requires that the tracking data object is a member of the data-set referenced by a LCB, BRCB, or URCB.

The following additional Common Data Classes (CDC) are defined in IEC 61850-7-2 Edition 2:

  • Common service tracking (CST)
  • Buffered report Tracking Service (BTS)
  • Unbuffered report Tracking Service (UTS)
  • Log control block Tracking Service (LTS)
  • GOOSE control block Tracking Service (GTS)
  • MSVCB Tracking Service (MTS)
  • USVCB Tracking Service (NTS)
  • SGCB Tracking Service (STS)

The tracking of services could be used to record the “manipulation” of the process and the information exchange control block attributes, e.g., the settings of relays or other functions. The FERC CIP (Critical Infrastructure Protection) requires to keep logs (records) of many information changes. The reporting and logging of IEC 61850-7-2 and the extended common data classes could be used to implement such a “Recorder” or “Data Logger”.

IEC 61850 (IEC 61400-25) provides a reach suite of service-oriented, event-driven or agent-oriented application and information exchange models.

The answer of the question in the headline is simply: YES, IEC 61850 can.

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