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DFA Technology FAQs

This information serves to offer a fuller explanation of the DFA technology. Questions are grouped logically but answers will necessarily overlap to some degree and repetition of some points is unavoidable in providing a sound reply to a given question.

Whilst long-standing, the technology is an evolving one. New questions will also continue to be asked. Thus, this FAQ sheet will be maintained current on the website below.

Network Configuration, Security and Software Updates

Please refer to sections 8 (DFA Cyber security and Software Maintenance) and 9 (DFA Data Backup and Retention) of the DFA Technology System Manual. We are unable, by means of confidentiality to provide specific client details of security protocols.

DFA Technology Systems Manual ...

Data volume varies with level of circuit activity. In a very active month (e.g., a month with multiple storms or a month with a repetitive, low-amplitude, incipient condition) data volume could be several times as much as it is in a “quiet” month. We generally recommend 10GB/month/device. In the USA, certain utility companies are able to “pool” their data volume, so that a particularly active month on one circuit does not cause an overrun of that circuit’s monthly allotment while the other circuits use only a small fraction of their allotments. We do not recommend sharing a cellular modem between multiple DFA devices, but we do recommend that the utility explore options, with its service provider, about pooling data allotments across multiple cellular modems. It is especially important to start with a relatively generous allotment on three-wire, 50 Hz circuits, because, as has been discussed previously, it is recognized that software adaptations will be necessary for recognition of certain types of circuit events. Design, implementation, and testing of software adaptations, particularly for repetitive, low-amplitude, incipient conditions, fundamentally require sufficient data, from operating circuits, during such conditions. The approach to collect this data, while minimizing the probability of events important for enabling the adaptations, is to trigger very sensitively, which in turn means that the amount of data collected and transmitted during this phase will be higher than it might be during long-term, normal operations. Because it is not possible to predict the level of circuit activity, we recommend the 10GB figure listed above but cannot guarantee that it will not ever be violated.

The basic requirement is to provide Internet service, to each DFA device, that allows the device to connect to and maintain a connection with the DFA Master Station. Utilities have used a variety of means to do this, including fiber, DSL, and cellular modems. Lord Consulting/PSLLC can speak only generally to various implementations, and for confidentiality, cannot provide details of client specific security related implementation questions.

Several utilities use DFA route connections from DFA devices from substations to a central location (e.g. Utility headquarters) through IPSEC tunnels, then allow the data to traverse the internet to PSLLC's server. Lord Consulting/PSLLC again notes that all traffic between the DFA device and master station is encrypted using TLS channels. If a client requires to further encapsulate that traffic in a single IPSEC tunnel (or similar VPN technology, such as OpenVPN) in transit to PSLLC's server, it would be something we could discuss. The preference however is that each DFA device connects to the DFA Master Station directly, using an encrypted connection with no intermediaries.

There are a variety of reasons we would prefer not to implement this particular topology, and would prefer the one proposed in the above FAQ. Lord Consulting/PSLLC would be open to implementing a similar VPN technology (i.e. OpenVPN) between devices and master station.

Data files recorded by the DFA are recorded in industry-standard PQDif format, with compression enabled in the files. Additional compression would yield little benefit and is not supported by the DFA device-to-master communications protocol. The DFA Master Station web interface provides means to access all user data; the utility does not need to acquire any special software for this purpose.

Each DFA device establishes and maintains a connection to the DFA Master Station. That connection then supports encrypted, bidirectional data flow between the device and the Master. The Master does not establish connections inbound to the substation-based DFA device. Therefore there is no requirement for the substation firewall to have any inbound ports open. Also please refer to General Response above.

The DFA Master Station pushes updated software to the fleet of DFA Devices. This is done on an as-needed basis, averaging approximately once per month.

Hosting, Privacy and Data Use

DFA Technology does not collect, analyse, store or transmit any information of a personal or private nature regarding any single or group of individuals, or as specified within any Privacy Legislation.

DFA operates by collecting and analysing internally the feeder phase voltage and current parameters, to identify developing fault events. This information is fully encrypted and transmitted using a unique DFA identifier which does not identify the company, feeder or location of the DFA.

Lord Consulting Ltd and Power Solutions LLC treat all data with the utmost privacy and security. Data or analytics is only used for the specific purpose of which the technology was designed and is not shared external to the clients organisation without the clients express and prior permission. In addition to this both Lord Consulting Ltd and Power Solutions LLC are happy to operate under the additional cover of an individual Non Disclosure Agreement with the client company if this is desired.

Further details on the specifics of Data Security Protocols are explained within the ‘Information and Data Security’ Section of this FAQ.

Please refer to sections 8 (DFA Cyber security and Software Maintenance) and 9 (DFA Data Backup and Retention) of the DFA Technology System Manual.

DFA Technology Systems Manual ...

All data is fully encrypted in transmission and storage. Please refer to sections 8 (DFA Cyber security and Software Maintenance) and 9 (DFA Data Backup and Retention) of the DFA Technology System Manual.

DFA Technology Systems Manual ...

The data collected by the DFA would remain the property of the utility. The Utility in turn consent to grant Lord Consulting and PSLLC (DFA Manufacturer) a free and exclusive right to use this data for delivery of specific services. i.e

  • Lord Consulting/PSLLC has the right to use the client’s data for the purpose of assessing the performance of DFA algorithms and for the purpose of designing and testing improvements to algorithms
  • Lord Consulting/PSLLC reserves the right to use data obtained from client DFA systems, including the right to publish case studies and the like, provided the client is not identified.

The scope of customer consent includes Lord Consulting/PSLLC collecting customer DFA Data, analysing it, and using it today and in the future for product improvements (for-profit commercialization) and industry research and publications, and, upon customer request that Lord Consulting provide DFA Analysis Service, use of customer DFA Data for the purposing of enabling us to perform such services.

If you neither use the DFA Master Station Service nor request that Lord Consulting/PSLLC review customer DFA Data, then Lord Consulting do not collect customer DFA Data; however, if you use our DFA Master Station Service or request our DFA Analysis Service, then Lord Consulting collect customer DFA Data. Data includes Electrical current and voltage waveform data, sampled by DFA Devices, and reports generated by Power Solutions proprietary software acting on that waveform data.

Lord Consulting may use customer DFA Data for the purpose of developing algorithms, improving our commercial products and, upon request by you, to assist you with DFA Analysis Service. Additionally, customer DFA Data will be included with similar DFA Data collected from other Customers and may be shared with the Texas A&M Experiment Station (TEES) and their affiliates for their research projects. These research projects may, or may not, be disclosed anonymously in industry publications (identifiable data would only be disclosed publically with the consent of the utility concerned).

Lord Consulting do not monitor or review customer data on a real-time, daily, weekly, monthly, or annual basis in order to determine if customer Circuits are defective, down, or otherwise experiencing a dangerous condition or other problem. Lord Consulting are not a “home or business security” service provider that monitors customer home or business on a 24x7 basis or contacts you if the hardware and or software installed in customer home or business signals a problem. You are responsible for reviewing customer DFA Data, at intervals that customer experience deems appropriate, to determine whether customer Circuits are experiencing a problem. If you contact us regarding a specific issue involving customer Circuits, Lord Consulting may review customer DFA Data and assist you in interpreting that DFA Data related to customer Circuits. In the course of reviewing customer DFA Data for the purpose of improving our products, in the event that Lord Consulting discover an indication of a possible Circuit event or condition that Lord Consulting believe may be of interest to you, Lord Consulting may, at our discretion, initiate contact with you regarding that event or condition, but Lord Consulting have no responsibility to do so, and doing so in one instance creates no obligation or expectation that Lord Consulting would do so for future events.

Please refer to sections 8 (DFA Cyber security and Software Maintenance) and 9 (DFA Data Backup and Retention) of the DFA Technology System Manual.

DFA Technology Systems Manual ...

Lord Consulting/PSLLC may publish customer lists, to include the name of your company and the approximate number of DFA Devices and related services you have purchased or are contemplating purchasing, which will be in the nature of a customer list, press release and or marketing material. In addition Lord Consulting/PSLLC may publish research papers, reports or publications which include descriptions, summaries, and analyses that use DFA Data from customer Circuits. In doing so, the name of your company and your employees shall not be disclosed in conjunction with specific, traceable examples of DFA Data. Lord Consulting/PSLLC and its affiliates do not otherwise disclose the name of your company in its reports, except with your permission or in publications made jointly with you or your employees.

Glossary of Terms

Distribution Fault Anticipation technology.

A hardware and software system for the practice of DFA Technology and consisting of a DFA Master Station and a fleet of one or more DFA Devices.

DFA Master Station Hardware, loaded with DFA Master Station Software and acting as a fundamental component of the DFA Technology System. The Master Station is currently a cloud-based device residing in the USA, which provides the secure conduit and main data repository between the DFA and the customer.

Proprietary, DFA Technology System-specific software, provided by PSLLC, necessary for the DFA Master Station to perform its intended purpose, and not including operating system software or any other third-party software.

An appropriately specified computer or system of computers, not proprietary to PSLLC, on which DFA Master Station Software is installed and used. DFA Master Station Hardware may consist of a single computer or of multiple computers configured to operate as a functional unit.

A fee-based service that provides the functionality of a DFA Master Station.

A specific device, of proprietary design, that constitutes a fundamental component of the DFA Technology System.

Proprietary, DFA Technology System-specific software, provided by PSLLC, embedded in and running on DFA Device Hardware. DFA Device Software is available only as an integral component of DFA Devices, not as standalone software.

Hardware of proprietary design, to provide the sensing, computing, communications, and other requirements for running DFA Device Software; does not include power supplies, wiring, communications equipment, or other apparatus, except as embedded in and integral to the DFA Device Hardware itself.

A function of the DFA Technology System, whereby a DFA Master Station provides oversight and management functions for a fleet of DFA Devices.

A three-phase electrical circuit, operating at distribution voltage (i.e., from 1 kV to 35 kV), for conducting electricity from a distribution substation to electric loads; also known as a Circuit.

An electric power distribution company or an entity performing power delivery functions typically ascribed to an electric power distribution company.

Electrical current and voltage waveform data, sampled by DFA Devices, and reports generated by PSLLC proprietary software acting on that waveform data.

An end user of the DFA Technology System; typically, a Distribution Company; excludes agents and resellers.

Service provided by PSLLC, upon request by Customer.

Power Solutions LLC, a Texas Limited Liability Company and supplier of DFA technology.

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