TecnixGoal-Directed Task Analysis of Control Center Situational Awareness
Iony Patriota de Siqueira
Tecnix Engineering and Architecture Ltd.
This release summarizes the main aspects of the Goal-Directed Task Analysis (GDTA) method adapted by Tecnix to avail the Situational Awareness (SA) of control centers for power networks. The method was implemented in a software tool [24] to benchmark 6 major national control centers in Latin America, North America and Europe, and to define a state-of-the-art Reference Control Center based on SA international standards , as part of a consulting project for an Independent System Operator (ISO).
Situational Awareness
The GDTA reference model offers a conceptual view of the three main levels of situational awareness required for real-time decision-making in control centers, as shown in Figure 1 [24], adapted from [23]: Perception, Comprehension and Prospection.


Figure 1 – Conceptual model of situational consciousness


The Perception level involves the ability to identify the necessary information about the state of the controlled system such as voltages, currents, power flows, topology, equipment condition, etc. It is related to the volume and quality of available information, and its adequacy to the Comprehension and Prospection levels of the situational awareness.


The Comprehension level involves the means to evaluate the impacts of this information on the desired results of the controlled network such as planned power interchange, thermal and capacity restrictions, frequency and voltage limit violations, etc. It is mainly influenced by the quality, adequacy, quantity and complexity of the information, the human skills and capacity for real-time information processing, and decision-making under pressure in the Prospection level of the situational awareness.


The Prospection level involves an anticipation of the effects, consequences and impacts of possible operator decisions and actions, and from events and externalities in the electrical network such as the connection or disconnection of components, breaches of system capacity and stability limits, incidence of severe climatic and geological conditions, etc. It depends not only on the competencies (knowledge, skills and attitudes) of each decision-maker, but also on the support of sophisticated processes and tools from the technological environment of the control center.
Technological Processes

In a power system control center the SA stages are supported by technological and human resources, including sophisticated computational tools, databases and systems for monitoring, supervision, visualization, simulation, planning and alarming of adverse conditions in the electrical network. The reference model supports a critical evaluation of these resources, correlated to the three levels of situational awareness, as illustrated in Figure 2 [24].


Figure 2 – Technological processes of situational awareness of the control center


In this model the Monitoring resources comprise the systems for data acquisition and visualization on the controlled network, and their availability in appropriate formats for the perception of the state from the operator. It is required that the collected information be necessary and enough to understand the existing situation, and for prospecting the results of their decisions on the state of the network.


The Analysis resources comprise the processing of the monitored information of the electrical network, for understanding of the situation by the operator, as part of its situational awareness. Their objectives are mainly to process the data and generate new useful information to the operator's perception of the current state of the power grid.


The Decision resources comprise the information processing to support and implement the decisions taken by the system operator, and its impact on the state of the electrical network. The objective is mainly to anticipate information about the consequences of the operator's decisions on the future state of the electrical grid.

In order to critically assess all SA components, a collaborative approach is used for identification and documentation of the current state, deficiencies and future needs in the systems and processes of the real-time environment of the target control center, assisted by a software tool and data base. The method is supported by face-to-face meetings and structured interviews with professionals from the control center for collecting and validating information, and comparison with similar data from the state-of-the-art Reference Control Center. Figure 3 [24] illustrates an overview of the methodology, which implements the main steps of the GDTA method.

Figure 3 GDTA methodology for improving the Situational Awareness


In this flow diagram the cascaded processes must be performed in the sequence illustrated by the arrows, as they are dependent on collected information in previous stages. Parallel processes can be performed concurrently, eventually by different teams, but supported by a single data base. The following paragraphs describe the subprocesses that comprise this methodology, represented in the above figure..

The Teams process performs the identification and description of the teams of professionals that will be analyzed by the GDTA methodology. It comprises the operators and engineers of the control center real-time environment, collectively referred to as operators, and compared to recommended teams suggested from the state-of-the-art Reference Control Center.


The Goals process maps and describes the objectives of each Team, while monitoring, analyzing and taking decisions about the electrical network operation. The goals are compared to recommended objectives defined in the state-of-the-art Reference Control Center.


The Tasks process comprises the identification and characterization of all expected activities of the Teams in achieving the defined objectives, including operational routines, and tasks performed during contingencies and disturbances in the electrical network, based on recommended tasks performed in the state-of-the-art Reference Control Center.


The Decisions process includes identification and description of all operators' actions and their consequences on the electrical grid, in normal or contingency conditions, to fulfill each of the tasks described in the previous process. In the GDTA methodology, decisions are related to a set of questions that operators must respond to take decisions, based on recommended practices from the state-of-the-art Reference Control Center.


The Resources process catalogs and describes all technological and managerial tools available to the operators and the control center to monitor, simulate, analyze and decide about the power grid in real time, for each defined Goal. The resources are compared to advanced tools and recommended processes available in the state-of-the-art Reference Control Center.


The Data process encompasses the identification and description of all information, calculations and simulations produced by each of the listed resources, to achieve each of the described Objectives. The data is also compared to recommended information available from the state-of-the-art Reference Control Center.


The Analysis Process correlates the data and information supplied by the resources, with the decisions taken in each task. It identifies all current and future deviations, disfunctions, absences, risks and limitations of each resource and technological tool for each identified objective. The process performs the diagnosis based on the functionalities of recommended systems from the state-of-the-art Reference Control Center.


The Recommendations process collects all suggestions of improvements in the situational awareness of the control Center, based on the results of the previous Analysis stage, by comparison with the Reference Control Center. A roadmap is developed for achieving the state-of-the-art in situational awareness.


This newsletter described the methodology used by Tecnix for critical analysis of the situational awareness of a dispatch and control center of an Independent System Operator of a national electrical network. The main concepts related to situational awareness were introduced, as well as the GDTA methodology used to identify the objectives, tasks, resources and information necessary for decision-making in the real-time environment of control centers [24]. A Reference Control Center was defined based on a benchmark of major national control centers in North America, Latin America and Europe, and implemented in a software tool to support the method.


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