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COPA-DATA Researches the Bridging of Geoinformation and Process Data

Published 04 December 2013 | By COPA-DATA

Together with research partners from education and commerce, COPA-DATA has been working to connect geoinformation to important data from industrial process monitoring and process control since March 2012, as part of the SCADA::GIS Research Project. The objectives of the research work are more efficient and flexible production processes, as well as quicker and simpler identification of the sources of errors.

Geographical information and its application - for example, in navigation or in the social web - has become an essential part of today's information society. Increasingly important, apart from the classical geo levels, is to recognize the cross and cross-domain integration of current sensor data and subjective ratings (people as sensors) as an essential added value for information and monitoring systems - for example in the fields of environmental monitoring, traffic management, wiring or building services.

Open standards as the connection between two worlds

Central to the research is two-way integration of Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) systems and geographic information systems (GIS). The data from both systems should be combined in such a way that more efficient monitoring and control of industrial production is made possible for location-dependent subsystems. To do this, the researchers used internationally-proven industry standards and implemented a general-use interface; it acts as a "translator" between both domains. With the help of these semantic bridges, actual use of current location-related information in different areas of application is to be made possible. Based on the classification parameters of area and time, measured data from both areas of application can be made accessible, in both directions, in a generic service-orientated architecture (SOA).

Reliable measurement data for increased efficiency

Reinhard Mayr, Product Manager at COPA-DATA, explains the research work with an example from practice: "Imagine a wind park where many individual wind turbines are located over large distances. A central control center with a SCADA system can operate and monitor the wind park remotely. If a problem occurs with a certain turbine, the SCADA system sets off an alarm. However, it is not possible for the system to automatically determine where exactly on the site this wind turbine is located. This information can usually be found in connected third-party systems or individual plans. However, with the help of integrated geoinformation, the location of the fault can easily be localized, enabling quick identification and rectification. What makes our project special is the manner in which the bridging between the two systems is made. In contrast to previous approaches, where proprietary approaches were central to the provision of measurement information, we wanted to offer proven industrial standards, such as OPC UA, for communication between the two domains and thus offer a generic solution."

SCADA::GIS on the path to practical implementation

The research team is using the automation software zenon from COPA-DATA for the creation of the service-orientated technical infrastructure. Once the project has been completed in spring 2014, the newly-developed architecture will be validated in practice using a prototype technical implementation; the planned scenario where it will be applied is the control of equipment in an energy grid. Other organizations and companies involved in the project are the Information Technology and Systems Management (ITS) degree program of Salzburg University of Applied Sciences, the research studio iSPACE of Research Studios Austria Forschungsgesellschaft (RSA) and SynerGIS Informationssysteme GmbH. The SCADA::GIS project is supported by the Austrian Research Promotion Agency (FFG).