Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) systems have been in use since the 1960’s to allow monitoring and controlling of equipment in remote locations to a centralized control location. SCADA is utilized in a wide variety of business sectors including:
- Electric power generation, transmission and distribution
- Industrial refining and petrochemical plants
- Environmental control systems
- Water and waste water plants
- Mass transit systems
- Manufacturing systems
- Building energy management
SCADA systems use computers to gather and analyze real time data. For example, when a leak on a pipeline occurs, a SCADA system transfers information to a central site, alerting the home station of the leak. A sophisticated SCADA system might also analyze criticality of the situation and notify authorities if evacuation is required.
Some SCADA systems are relatively simple, such as one that monitors environmental conditions in an office building; or they can be incredibly complex, such as one that monitors the activity in a nuclear power plant.
While the SCADA human-machine interface usually allows operators to view the state of each component in a plant’s equipment, most operator interaction with the system is driven by alarms. Alarms indicate automatically detected abnormal conditions that require operator attention and/or intervention.