Talk on Smart Grid Privacy at Cornell University

Dominik Engel talks at Cornell University

On March 27, 2017, Dominik Engel gave an invited talk on “The Interplay of Data Resolution and Privacy in Smart Metering” at Cornell University by invitation of Prof. Stephen Wicker.

The change from traditional energy grids to become so-called Smart Grids is an enabler of the important societal goal to turn from fossil energy to renewable energy sources. The vision is to build intelligent energy grids that harness the insights of information and communication technology (ICT) to allow widespread integration of renewable energy sources, self-healing grids, connection of smart homes and smart electric vehicles, synchronization of demand and response, and many other use cases. Spreading such Smart Grid technologies will be inherently difficult without addressing user concerns regarding privacy issues. These concerns are especially pronounced when it comes to smart metering. Through smart metering load profiles are measured per household. It has been shown that personal data can be inferred from these load profiles, which has led to privacy concerns.

Surprisingly, the debate regarding the impact on privacy of measurements in smart metering has been largely led without taking the issue of resolution into consideration. The influence of data resolution on privacy impact can be seen in other domains, such as video surveillance, where resolution is a critical factor.

In this talk, first the impact of data granularity on edge detection, a first step in appliance detection, is reviewed. Based on these insights, a method for generating multi-resolution representation of load profiles by using the wavelet transform is presented. By using a hierarchical keying scheme and different keys in the different keys on the various resolutions, users can decide which party can access their load profile at which resolution. Finally, open issues and further research directions are discussed.

Best Paper Award at IEEE SoSE 2016

_01_9748Our paper on “A Standards-based Approach for Domain Specific Modelling of Smart Grid System Architectures” has won the best paper award at the IEEE Int. Conf. on System of Systems Engineering (SoSE) 2016!

Developing the Smart Grid as complex, interdisciplinary System-of-Systems has proven to be a challenging task. Maintaining the strict dependability requirements for this critical infrastructure requires sophisticated engineering techniques. A key concept in this field is denoted as “Systems Engineering” which aims at enabling a holistic and interdisciplinary engineering approach. One of the key aspects hereby is the utilization of models for enabling different viewpoints according to individual stakeholder needs. The presented approach describes a practical implementation of this concept by delivering a Domain Specific Modelling Language (DSL) for Smart Grid systems. This language is derived on basis of the European Smart Grid Architecture Model (SGAM) as common concept for describing Smart Grid systems. Besides the implementation of this modelling language, its applicability has been demonstrated by modelling the NIST Logical Reference Model (NIST LRM) as reference example. In addition to the plain demonstration of the applicability, this approach also outlines how to combine the European SGAM as architecture framework with the NIST LRM as reference solution.

  • [PDF] [DOI] C. Neureiter, M. Uslar, D. Engel, and G. Lastro, “A Standards-based Approach for Domain Specific Modelling of Smart Grid System Architectures,” in Proceedings of International Conference on System of Systems Engineering (SoSE) 2016, Kongsberg, Norway, 2016, p. 1–6.
    author = {Christian Neureiter and Mathias Uslar and Dominik Engel and Goran Lastro},
    title = {A Standards-based Approach for Domain Specific Modelling of Smart Grid System Architectures},
    booktitle = {Proceedings of International Conference on System of Systems Engineering (SoSE) 2016},
    year = {2016},
    pages = {1--6},
    address = {Kongsberg, Norway},
    month = jun,
    note = {Best Paper Award.},
    doi = {10.1109/SYSOSE.2016.7542888},
    pdf = {},

Guest Lectures by Prof. Stephen Wicker, Cornell University

We are very pleased to announce two guest lectures by Prof. Stephen Wicker from Cornell University.

Thursday, 7 April 2016 | 3 pm
Demand Response Systems: Privacy and Security

Demand response systems offer the potential to greatly smooth power generation requirements, but this comes at the cost of collecting fine-granularity power consumption data from consumers. In this talk we review the privacy concerns surrounding such data collection, showing that it reveals detailed information about behavior within the home. We also consider the security issues, examining a variety of potential attacks by third parties that can exploit demand-response systems to disrupt the power grid. We then describe a secure, privacy-ware architecture that avoids harm to subscribers and reduces the potential for third-party attacks.

Friday, 8 April 2016 | 3 pm
Smartphones, Cryptography and the Self-Incrimination

The recent confrontation between the FBI and Apple highlights both the importance of smartphones in modern life and the power of publicly-available cryptography. In this talk we will explore this controversy, and then consider the more general issues of the public use of cryptography and one’s right to keep one’s personal data to one’s self. Along the way we will treat the specific questions of whether forced decryption is self-incrimination, and the technical and legal status of smartphones as the personal papers of the 21st century.


Stephen Wicker is a Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering and a member of the graduate fields of Computer Science, Information Science, and Applied Mathematics. He teaches and conducts research in wireless information networks, cellular networks, packet-switched computer networks, and digital telephony. He currently focuses on the interface between information networking technology, law, and sociology, with a particular emphasis on how design choices and regulation can infringe the privacy and speech rights of users. Professor Wicker‘s most recent book, Cellular Convergence and the Death of Privacy, was published by Oxford University Press in September 2013.

Professor Wicker is the Cornell Principal Investigator for the TRUST Science and Technology Center – a National Science Foundation center dedicated to the development of technologies for securing the nation’s critical infrastructure. In 2010 Professor Wicker briefed the staff of the Congressional Committee on Science and Technology on the subject of cellular privacy and in 2014 briefed the National Economic Council at the White House on privacy and security for the smart grid. In 2011 he was made a Fellow of the IEEE for “contributions to wireless information systems“. He has published six books and graduated 42 PhD students.


Dagstuhl Seminar “Privacy and Security in Smart Energy Grids”

In the German speaking computer science world, Dagstuhl is a magic word — the seminars there are as renowned as the library and the obligatory picture on the stairs of Schloss Dagstuhl.

In January 2016, George Danezis (University College London, GB), Stefan Katzenbeisser (TU Darmstadt, DE), Christiane Peters (IBM Belgium, BE) and Bart Preneel (KU Leuven, BE) invited international researchers to a Dagstuhl seminar on “Privacy and Security in Smart Energy Grids”. Dominik Engel was thrilled to get asked to participate, discuss ideas and research trends and finally get into a pictures on the famous stairs.