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High-Fidelity Cyber and Physical Simulation of Water Distribution Systems. I: Models and Data

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journal contribution
posted on 2024-03-22, 14:35 authored by Andrés Murillo, Riccardo Taormina, Nils Ole Tippenhauer, Davide Salaorni, Robert van Dijk, Luc Jonker, Simcha Vos, Maarten Weyns, Stefano Galelli
Numerical simulation models are a fundamental tool for planning and managing smart water networks—an evolution of water distribution systems in which physical assets are monitored and controlled by information and communication technologies. While simulation models allow us to understand the interactions between physical processes and abstract control strategies, they ignore key implementation aspects of distributed control systems, such as the required communication over digital links. As a result, the effects of anomalies and faults in the communication on the process control cannot be investigated with existing tools. In this work, we fill this gap by introducing DHALSIM (Digital HydrAuLic SIMulator), a numerical modelling platform combining EPANET-based process simulation with a network and host emulation environment, offering a high-fidelity representation of the processes occurring in the cyber domain. We illustrate DHALSIM’s key functionalities by implementing it on a benchmark water distribution system, present case studies of simulated network traffic, and demonstrate how anomalies in the behavior of the communication network affect the process data received by the supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) server. In a companion paper, we further illustrate how DHALSIM enables research opportunities in the domain of cyber-physical security. The easily customizable and open source DHALSIM provides a “workbench” for studying smart water networks, developing digital twins, and designing a broad spectrum of engineering solutions.


Primary Research Area

  • Secure Connected and Mobile Systems


Journal of Water Resources Planning and Management



Page Range




Open Access Type

  • Not Open Access

Sub Type

  • Article


@article{Murillo:Taormina:Tippenhauer:Salaorni:van Dijk:Jonker:Vos:Weyns:Galelli:2023, title = "High-Fidelity Cyber and Physical Simulation of Water Distribution Systems. I: Models and Data", author = "Murillo, Andrés" AND "Taormina, Riccardo" AND "Tippenhauer, Nils Ole" AND "Salaorni, Davide" AND "van Dijk, Robert" AND "Jonker, Luc" AND "Vos, Simcha" AND "Weyns, Maarten" AND "Galelli, Stefano", year = 2023, month = 5, journal = "Journal of Water Resources Planning and Management", number = "5", pages = "04023009--04023009", publisher = "ASCE", issn = "0733-9496", doi = "10.1061/jwrmd5.wreng-5853" }