Now, thanks to CANARY Event Detection Software — an open-source software developed by Sandia National Laboratories in partnership with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) — public water systems can be protected through enhanced detection of such threats.
“People are excited about it because it’s free and because we’ve shown that it works really well. We would love to have more utilities using it,” said Regan Murray, acting associate division director of the EPA’s Water Infrastructure Protection Division at the National Homeland Security Research Center.
The software tells utility operators within minutes whether something is wrong with their water, giving them time to warn and protect the public. And it’s improving water quality by giving utility managers more comprehensive real-time data about changes in their water.
CANARY is being used in Cincinnati and Singapore, and Philadelphia is testing the software system. A number of other U.S. utilities also are evaluating CANARY for future use.
Sean McKenna, the Sandia researcher who led the team that developed CANARY, said people began to pay attention to the security of the nation’s water systems after 9/11.Sean McKenna, seated right, works with Kate Klise, standing, and Dave Hart, left, on the CANARY Event Detection Software, which is open source software developed by Sandia in partnership with the Environmental Protection Agency to enhance the detection of terrorist attacks or natural contaminants to public drinking water systems. The projected image shows what a utility operator might see, including a map locating a sensor that has detected contamination, a graph (top) that shows a measurement of water quality at the sensor and another graph showing the operator the probability that the water has been contaminated. (Photo by Randy Montoya) Click on the thumbnail for a high-resolution image.
McKenna and Murray said CANARY could have lessened the impact of the nation’s largest public water contamination. In 1993, a cryptosporidiosis outbreak in Milwaukee hastened the deaths of dozens of citizens, made more than 400,000 residents ill and cost more than $96 million in medical expenses and lost productivity, according to reports about the tragedy.
“If you don’t have a detection system, the way you find out about these things is when people get sick,” Murray said.
Sandia, a national security laboratory, had worked on water security before the 9/11 attacks. So when the EPA was looking for help early in the last decade to better monitor water utilities, they contacted Sandia.
A Sandia-developed, risk-assessment methodology for water focused on physical security of the utility infrastructure, but did not address detection and assessment of the impact of contamination within the water itself. CANARY was designed to meet that need for better assessment, McKenna said.
CANARY, which runs on a desktop computer, can be customized for individual water utilities, working with existing sensors and software, McKenna said.
While some utilities monitor their water using real-time sensors, many still send operators out once a week to take samples, said David Hart, the lead Sandia software developer for CANARY.
Compared to weekly samples, CANARY works at lightning speed.
“From the start of an event — when a contaminant reaches the first sensor — to an event alarm would be 20-40 minutes, depending on how the utility has CANARY configured,” McKenna said.
The challenge for any contamination detection system is reducing the number of false alarms and making data meaningful amidst a “noisy” background of information caused by the environment and the utility infrastructure itself.
CANARY researchers used specially designed numerical algorithms to analyze data coming from multiple sensors and differentiate between natural variability and unusual patterns that indicate a problem. For example, the Multivariate-Nearest Neighbor algorithm groups data into clusters based on time and distance, explained Kate Klise, a numerical analyst at Sandia. When new data is received, CANARY decides whether it’s close enough to a known cluster to be considered normal or whether it’s far enough away to be deemed anomalous. In the latter case, CANARY alerts the utility operator, Klise said.
The computer program uses a moving 1.5- to two-day window of past data to detect abnormal events by comparing predicted water characteristics with current observations. But a single outlier won’t trigger the alarm, which helps to avoid costly and inefficient false alarms. CANARY aggregates information over multiple 2- to 5-minute time steps to build evidence that water quality has undergone a significant change, McKenna said.
“We’ve taken techniques from different fields and put those together in a way they haven’t been put together before; certainly the application of those techniques to water quality monitoring hasn’t been done before,” McKenna said.
CANARY also provides information about gradual changes in the water, McKenna said.
One unintended benefit of the software is that when utility operators better understood the data being sent by their sensors, they could make changes to the management of the water systems to improve its overall quality, McKenna said.
“What we found from utilities we work with is that a better managed system is more secure, and a more secure system is better managed,” McKenna said.
Harry Seah, director of the Technology and Water Quality Office at the Public Utilities Board (PUB), Singapore’s national water authority, wrote in a letter supporting CANARY that the software provided a “quantum leap” in the utility’s practice.
In the past, Seah wrote, the utility depended on preset limits of three water characteristics to determine water quality.
“With the implementation of CANARY, relative changes in the patterns of these three parameters can be used to uncover water quality events, even if each individual parameter lies within the alarm limits,” Seah wrote. “This dramatically improves PUB’s ability to respond to water quality changes, and allows PUB to arrest poor quality water before [it reaches] the consumers.”
As more versions of the software are installed at water utilities, researchers are working on new application areas for CANARY, such as computer network traffic logs and geophysical log analysis used by petroleum drillers to analyze rocks at different depths.
Sandia National Laboratories is a multiprogram laboratory operated by Sandia Corporation, a wholly owned subsidiary of Lockheed Martin Corporation, for the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration. With main facilities in Albuquerque, N.M., and Livermore, Calif., Sandia has major R&D responsibilities in national security, energy and environmental technologies, and economic competitiveness.
Sandia news media contact: Heather Clark, email@example.com (505) 844-3511
Heather Clark | EurekAlert!
Dune ecosystem modelling
23.06.2017 | Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg im Breisgau
Understanding animal social networks can aid wildlife conservation
23.06.2017 | Leibniz-Institut für Gewässerökologie und Binnenfischerei (IGB)
An international team of scientists has proposed a new multi-disciplinary approach in which an array of new technologies will allow us to map biodiversity and the risks that wildlife is facing at the scale of whole landscapes. The findings are published in Nature Ecology and Evolution. This international research is led by the Kunming Institute of Zoology from China, University of East Anglia, University of Leicester and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research.
Using a combination of satellite and ground data, the team proposes that it is now possible to map biodiversity with an accuracy that has not been previously...
Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.
Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...
Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.
As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...
Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.
With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...
Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine
Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...
19.06.2017 | Event News
13.06.2017 | Event News
13.06.2017 | Event News
23.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
23.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
23.06.2017 | Information Technology