Machine Design

Software identifies risks to power grids and dams

A family of security-assessment software tools developed at Sandia National Laboratory have earned an award this year for Excellence in Technology Transfer.

The programs help owners and operators of power-transmission systems, dams, and water-distribution systems identify security vulnerabilities and suggest corrections. For example, they list the best places to mount security cameras and lights, whether to invest in new barriers, higher fences or better doors, and pinpoint where extra training is needed. The programs come with worksheets for evaluating existing security systems, equations for calculating risk, and a fault-free analysis tool for identifying weak spots. The tools stem from trial assessments on four actual dams and a major regional transmission network. Sandia engineers originally devised the tools to protect U.S. nuclear assets.

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