Challenges of Cyber-Physical Systems and Technology Policy
Cyber-physical systems are particularly pertinent to digital data because they heavily rely on digital data collection and management to ensure their reliability and safety. I am currently funded by the National Science Foundation to study cyber-physical systems and automated technologies. I work with engineers, computer scientists, policy scholars, and social scientists to investigate the social and legal risks that these cyber-physical systems are posing and suggest ways to harmonize international regulatory practices. I have a publication in Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice (impact factor: 3.7) on the safety and liability regulatory challenges of connected and automated vehicles (CAVs). With a wider spread of CAV testing, this paper provides safety guidelines for conducting on-road testing of CAVs, and it shows that data reporting and collection are crucial components in ensuring CAV safety.
Despite the importance of safety that comes with digital data collection, many emerging technologies pose privacy challenges. This is particularly the case in smart meters, which collect household energy consumption data. Such data have been found to show individual lifestyle, religious affiliation, and even income level. A paper under review in Utilities Policy directly addresses these issues of digital data in the energy industry. In this paper, my co-author and I assess privacy regulatory challenges for personal energy consumption data and data management and we propose ways to improve privacy while maintaining the benefits that come with energy automation. Similarly, transactive energy, which addresses both price responsive controls and load management, is pertinent in the discussion of digital data. I am currently working on a paper on the social and technological challenges that transactive energy projects in the U.S. experienced. In this paper, the findings indicate that data security and privacy pose systemic risks of transactive energy.
I am not only interested in current regulations and harmonizing safe and risk-averse practices, but also how automated technologies should be governed through different reporting strategies and how these data should be managed. Therefore, I envision conducting interdisciplinary research in a concerted effort with engineers on pragmatic reporting techniques and digital data management strategies for cyber-physical systems to ensure the safety and privacy of consumers. One of the central challenges that emerged from my comparative studies is the need to develop more precise and comprehensive reporting processes and technologies.