Software for Smarter Grids

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OPEN 2015
Nashville, Tennessee
Project Term:
04/04/2016 - 03/01/2021

Critical Need:

A number of emerging trends will substantially alter the operation and control of the electric grid over the next several decades. These trends include ensuring resiliency under severe weather events, increasing integration of renewable electricity generation, supporting changing electricity demand patterns, and the improving cost effectiveness of distributed energy resources. To address these challenges, the future “Smart Grid” management will need to transition from centralized to coordinated distributed control paradigm. Reliable operation of the Smart Grid depends on distributed intelligence realized through software applications that run on distributed computing devices attached to the power system to collect data and collaboratively manage resources. However, much of the existing software for Smart Grid-enabled devices is either proprietary or developed with custom solutions, which limits interoperability among the heterogeneous devices and hinders the ability to manage system-level reliability, security, and resiliency requirements. Additionally, this approach makes Smart Grid applications hard to maintain, evolve, verify, and replace; resulting in high development and deployment costs. Further development of the Smart Grid requires a reusable software base-layer to move from hard-coded functionality to a plug-and-play architecture capable of managing system-level objectives and constraints in addition to providing consistent common services across heterogeneous devices and applications.

Project Innovation + Advantages:

Vanderbilt University will develop a foundation platform for developing and deploying robust, reliable, effective and secure software applications for the Smart Grid. The Resilient Information Architecture Platform for the Smart Grid (RIAPS) provides core services for building effective and powerful smart grid applications. It offers unique services for real-time data dissemination, fault tolerance, and coordination across apps distributed over the network. The platform will allow plug-and-play architecture by providing a software layer that isolates the hardware details making software applications portable across multiple devices and enabling interoperability among heterogeneous devices and applications. Additionally, the RIAPS will be supported by a model-driven development toolchain to reduce development costs. The platform will allow apps to be upgraded and dynamically reconfigured in the field and will enable a marketplace of hardware device vendors, app developers, and end users to sell and buy products and services that will interoperate. Vanderbilt's team will develop and prototype the platform using an open source code base. The team will also construct representative open source energy management software apps that will demonstrate the effectiveness and dependability of the system, while offering a starting point for commercial implementations. The team expects the platform to become an industry standard on which Smart Grid applications can reliably run, much in the same way Android and iOS have become industry standard platforms for smartphones.

Potential Impact:

If successful, innovations from this project would provide the technological foundation for distributed and resilient Smart Grid software applications for improved and effective energy management.


Robust, reliable, effective, and secure Smart Grid software could boost the grid’s cybersecurity and resiliency through decentralized management as well as failure detection, isolation, and recovery. It also improves grid flexibility through localized management of distributed resources.


The team’s software platform could help facilitate integration of more renewable energy onto the grid, helping to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from electricity generation.


Use of the team’s software could reduce the cost of Smart Grid management and ultimately decrease prices for consumers. Additionally, a common Smart Grid platform could enable a marketplace of hardware device vendors, app developers, and end users to sell and buy products and services that will interoperate.


ARPA-E Program Director:
Dr. Mario Garcia-Sanz
Project Contact:
Dr. Gabor Karsai
Press and General Inquiries Email:
Project Contact Email:


Washington State University
North Carolina State University

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