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ISIS Defends Against Cyberattack, Enemy Forces and Even Disease

Posted by on Thursday, September 17, 2009 in Fall 2009, Sidebar.


As director of the Institute for Software Integrated Systems (ISIS), Janos Sztipanovits oversees more than $10 million in systems and information science and engineering projects involving more than 100 researchers, staff and graduate students.

These projects engage ISIS, and Sztipanovits, the E. Bronson Ingram Distinguished Professor of Engineering, in information systems, health care, and defense and national security.

Currently the development of projects on high-confidence system design with defense applications are ongoing, particularly for avionics. High confidence systems (those that developers and users have a high degree of assurance that they will not fail or misbehave) need to be secure and durable. “We are also interested in investigating the resilience of large information systems against cyberattacks,” says Sztipanovits, who chaired a study on the operational readiness of the U.S. Air Force against cyberattacks last year.

The largest effort in the defense area at ISIS, Sztipanovits says, is the development of a battle command system for the U.S. military’s Future Combat System program. This initiative uses ISIS-pioneered, model-integrated computing design principles that combine various technologies into a consistent and reliable system.

“This whole area of model-integrated design of systems and software is really rapidly moving into the mainstream and that creates a quite new approach to engineer, integrate and operate large networked systems,” he says. “It is also the foundation for new system design methods and tools that go beyond the conventional programming languages.”

Other projects range from the development of online training materials for homeland security purposes to creating a countersniper system. This cost-effective sniper location system detects when weapons are fired and the direction of the bullets. The countersniper technology would allow soldiers or police officers to react rapidly and minimize injuries.

ISIS’s expertise in understanding and incorporating complex privacy, security and systems integration issues dovetails into its work in health care. Currently ISIS researchers work with Vanderbilt University Medical Center toward creating trustworthy health information systems. Vanderbilt is joined in this National Science Foundation partnership by scientists from Berkeley, Stanford, Cornell and Carnegie Mellon universities.

A patient management system for managing sepsis is another program developed with medical center colleagues, Sztipanovits says. In May initial capabilities for the system were deployed in the medical center for testing, where it has already demonstrated viability. “We also are discussing how to extend that system toward other areas, such as home-based management of congestive heart failure patients,” he says.