A Strong Start at the 1st SPARKS Stakeholder Workshop

We held the first of our workshops with the SPARKS Stakeholder Group on Tuesday 20-May in Graz, Austria, with members of the stakeholder group joining us from countries across the EU, as well as a special guest from Korea.  It was a great meeting, of great benefit to the SPARKS project team.

Participants from the workshop at the premises of Energie Steiermark in Graz
Participants from the workshop at the premises of Energie Steiermark in Graz

The workshop served two purposes. The first was to bring the stakeholders up-to-date on the project by looking at each of the work packages and mini-projects in detail, as outlined in the agenda published before the workshop. Paul Smith gave the opening overview of the SPARKS project and then presented the security analysis work we’re doing in the risk assessment work package. Lucie Langer presented the architecture and standards work we’re doing. Next, leaders for each of the four mini-projects in the development work package talked through the core ideas in each area: Kieran McLaughlin on intrusion detection for SCADA systems, Bob Griffin on security information analytics, Martin Hulte on smart meter authentication and Andre Teixeira on cyberattack-resilient control systems. Michael Schmidthaler then discussed the SPARKS work regarding social and legal issues for Smart Grid, followed by Friedrich Kupzog’s presentation on SPARKS demonstration activities.

The second purpose of the workshop was to gather requirements for and feedback on our work in SPARKS. We had reserved nearly half the day for discussion and made very good use of that time, with the stakeholders providing extremely valuable insights into the challenges of Smart Grid security and very helpful feedback on the work that we will be doing in SPARKS. For example, we had extensive discussion about the difficulties of managing security for the legacy systems that have to be integrated with new Smart Grid technologies. We wrestled with the challenges of deriving clear technical direction from the varied set of standards, architectures and other guidance that is available. We talked at length about the challenges in regulatory environments and in understanding the threat landscape, as well as the critical need for technologies and methodologies such as those being developed under the aegis of SPARKS to help EU governments and industry in responding to those challenges.

All of us came away from the stakeholder workshop with a renewed sense of how important the SPARKS project is. It’s clear that the challenges we are trying to address are real and significant, and that the two-way sharing of information between the project team and stakeholders is a critical part of making sure that we provide real and significant capabilities to help those responsible for realizing the Smart Grid. If you’re interested in joining the Stakeholder Group and participating in future workshops, please contact us!