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NWRTC Notes From the Field (June 2020)

Interviews with public health professionals who are helping to keep us safe

July 20, 2020
July 20, 2020

PNNL's Northwest Regional Technology Center interviews Assistant Chief of Resource Management for Seattle Fire Department Willie Barrington about how his team faced the unknown when the COVID-19 pandemic hit Seattle, Washington.

Research topics

June 25, 2020

Systems Engineering Building

Systems Engineering Building

The SEB's Interoperability Lab.

The U.S. electric power grid is the most complex machine ever built, and transforming it from an early 20th Century system to a 21st Century engine for innovation is one of the biggest scientific and technical challenges PNNL scientists are working to solve. They are discovering many of those solutions at the Systems Engineering Building (SEB).

With a focus on modernizing the power grid, the SEB provides advanced laboratory space and equipment to advance basic and applied research in electricity markets, generation, transmission, distribution, and end use, including buildings-grid integration. The work furthers the integration of renewable energy and protects the grid from cyberattack, physical attack, and severe weather.

The SEB’s resources help make up PNNL’s unique, utility-grade control center infrastructure that supports research in grid visibility, control, and resiliency; those resources are coupled with the largest national repository of grid data and models to inform the research. Facilities include:

  • the Electricity Infrastructure Operations Center, which deploys advanced mathematical and computational science to improve power grid management and control in real time

  • the Buildings Operations Control Center, which simulates new control strategies that increase energy efficiency within buildings, while simultaneously reducing strains on the power grid

  • the Power Electronics Lab, which supports electric vehicle charging, energy storage, metering, and building controls research

  • the Interoperability Lab, which enables networks, systems, devices, applications, or components to exchange information to prioritize energy usage.

A LEED gold-certified facility, the SEB also contains:

  • three control rooms

  • an adjacent outdoor pad that provides space to connect to even larger assets, such as utility-scale energy storage units and commercial-grade, rooftop air conditioners

  • advanced industry software, real-time grid data, and computational resources.

Electricity Infrastructure Operations Center

EIOC East Control Room

The EIOC East Control Room.

Improving grid operations by collecting and applying better data

Modern technologies and lifestyles have cultivated a reliance on power, and therefore a national need to better manage and control the grid. PNNL has answered this call by bringing together industry software, real-time grid data, and advanced computation into a functional control room – the Electricity Infrastructure Operations Center (EIOC). Shaped with input from utilities, technology vendors, and researchers, the EIOC serves as a unique platform for researching, developing, and deploying technologies to improve grid management.

At the EIOC, researchers are focusing on improving situational awareness by collecting more and richer data and by developing tools that allow for timely analyses, as well as quick and appropriate action. The facility features:

  • access to real data from North America's eastern and western power grids

  • physical and cybersecurity for equipment, information, personnel, and data

  • leading energy management system software

  • industry standard virtualization infrastructure

  • 30 workstations, 25 special-purpose computers, and more than 50 servers

  • a 452-square-foot video screen in the EIOC East room

  • a 115-square-foot video screen in the EIOC West room

  • video and audio capture and recording of room and operations

By using the resources available at the EIOC and by drawing upon its industry partnerships, PNNL researchers are obtaining and studying more in-depth data from extreme weather events and other grid disruptions to understand how to prevent future catastrophes.

The EIOC has also been used to explore improved cybersecurity defense methods. Engineers have tested applications for high-performance computing and the GridOPTICS™ PowerNET Testbed–a multi-user, remotely accessible, experimental laboratory focused on testing and evaluating power systems for smart grid research.

The EIOC is available to utilities, vendors, government agencies, and universities interested in research, development, or training.

Northwest Regional Technology Center

The Northwest Regional Technology Center for Homeland Security is a virtual resource, operated by the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, to support local and regional preparedness, resiliency, response, and recovery.

Photo of first responders


The NWRTC enables homeland security solutions for emergency responder communities, federal, state, and local agencies, and private sector stakeholders in the Northwest and beyond. We lead collaborative efforts between technology developers and federal, state, local, and tribal users to:

  • Identify critical technology needs and requirements to influence the federal R&D agenda.
  • Enable technology testing and evaluation.
  • Provide unbiased information to support acquisition and/or implementation.
  • Accelerate technology development and deployment.

Transforming regional engagement

Graphic summarizing regional stakeholders

Our center connects PNNL researchers and capabilities with private and public stakeholders to address current and emerging challenges in:

  • Resilience, response, and recovery
  • First responder technology
  • Cybersecurity
  • Autonomous systems
  • Transportation security
  • Security systems
  • Health and homeland security
  • Chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear threats

Around the Region in Homeland Security

Highlights in the September 2020 issue include:

  • Cybersecurity Summit goes virtual
  • PNNL tech named GeekWire Innovation of the Year
  • Are you Ready? September is National Preparedness Month
  • NWRTC wants to hear from you!


Toll-free: 888-347-6983 

Ann Lesperance, Director, | (206) 528-3223

Ryan Eddy, Deputy Director, | (509) 372-6622

Rob Jasper, Deputy Director, | (509) 371-6430