Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Sandia’s CANARY software protects water utilities from terrorist attacks and contaminants, boosts quality

26.07.2011
Americans are used to drinking from the kitchen tap without fear of harm, even though water utilities might be vulnerable to terrorist attacks or natural contaminants.

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, hclark@sandia.gov (505) 844-3511

Heather Clark | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.sandia.gov

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Successful calculation of human and natural influence on cloud formation
04.11.2016 | Goethe-Universität Frankfurt am Main

nachricht Invasive Insects Cost the World Billions Per Year
04.10.2016 | University of Adelaide

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Novel silicon etching technique crafts 3-D gradient refractive index micro-optics

A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.

Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...

Im Focus: Quantum Particles Form Droplets

In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.

“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...

Im Focus: MADMAX: Max Planck Institute for Physics takes up axion research

The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.

The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...

Im Focus: Molecules change shape when wet

Broadband rotational spectroscopy unravels structural reshaping of isolated molecules in the gas phase to accommodate water

In two recent publications in the Journal of Chemical Physics and in the Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters, researchers around Melanie Schnell from the Max...

Im Focus: Fraunhofer ISE Develops Highly Compact, High Frequency DC/DC Converter for Aviation

The efficiency of power electronic systems is not solely dependent on electrical efficiency but also on weight, for example, in mobile systems. When the weight of relevant components and devices in airplanes, for instance, is reduced, fuel savings can be achieved and correspondingly greenhouse gas emissions decreased. New materials and components based on gallium nitride (GaN) can help to reduce weight and increase the efficiency. With these new materials, power electronic switches can be operated at higher switching frequency, resulting in higher power density and lower material costs.

Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE together with partners have investigated how these materials can be used to make power...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ICTM Conference 2017: Production technology for turbomachine manufacturing of the future

16.11.2016 | Event News

Innovation Day Laser Technology – Laser Additive Manufacturing

01.11.2016 | Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

UTSA study describes new minimally invasive device to treat cancer and other illnesses

02.12.2016 | Medical Engineering

Plasma-zapping process could yield trans fat-free soybean oil product

02.12.2016 | Agricultural and Forestry Science

What do Netflix, Google and planetary systems have in common?

02.12.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>