Deepa Kundur was an Assistant Professor at The Edward S. Rogers Sr. Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering at the University of Toronto and returned in September 2012 to hold the title of Professor. She currently serves as Associate Chair in the Division of Engineering Science. She will also be the General Chair of the upcoming SGSC 2015, the International Conference on Smart Grids for Smart Cities (co-located conference with SmartCity360 Summit), that will take place in Toronto, Canada on October 13–14, 2015. We talked to her about the conference and how it can help to solve the challenges in the field of smart grids and smart cities.
Can smart grids and smart cities exist without compromising the privacy and security of its citizens?
It is important to think of achieving security and privacy as an on-going process that is as strong as the weakest link. Security and privacy are not just technological issues, but involve people and processes. The dynamic nature of technology and cultural norms can change what is achievable or what is considered to be acceptable in terms of an “attack.” For this reason, to be effective security and privacy mechanisms must be updated to keep up with this ever-changing threat landscape. With new technologies that are highly dependent on data acquisition, communications and computation, new issues in privacy and security will naturally arise. Unfortunately, the same characteristics of information systems that make them more effective can also facilitate their misuse in several contexts. Therefore, smart grids and smart cities by their very nature in achieving greater efficiency and consumer-centricity through the integration of information technology is fertile ground to revisit privacy and security issues.
In your opinion, what are the most important challenges within the field of smart grids and smart cities, at the moment?
When there is a cyber-enablement of systems as we are witnessing with the energy sector and with the movement to smart cities, new applications largely drive system evolution. Data analytics is critical to provide the level of consumer-centricity challenges promised by the smart grid and smart cities. Moreover, in line with the focus of our symposium, “knowledge is power” can only be achieved when cyber security is reasonable ensured. Within the space, there are important applications for which secure data analytics is needed including the integration of renewable sources, demand response and substation automation. Results in these sectors is imperative to facilitate consumer confidence and achieve widespread adoption.
How will SGSC 2015 reflect and help solve these challenges?
Fundamentally, the vision for a smart grid and smart city is only possible through multidisciplinary efforts. Our symposium aims to bring together stakeholders from diverse backgrounds to tackle challenging technical issues. As technology rapidly advances, there is a need to take a step back to better understand the effects of evolution. This is especially important in the field of cyber security and we hope that our symposium helps move us closer to a more comprehensive discourse.