Cyber-Physical-Social Systems Can Impact a Changing Environment

The concept of Cyber-Physical-Social Systems (CPSS) has emerged as a powerful framework for tackling the impacts of climate change by integrating digital technologies, physical infrastructure, and societal dynamics.

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A fog node is a computing infrastructure component located at the edge of a network. It serves as an intermediary between local IoT devices and centralized cloud-computing resources. Fog nodes are equipped with processing, storage, and networking capabilities, allowing them to perform computation and data-storage tasks closer to the data source. This proximity reduces latency, conserves bandwidth, and enhances privacy and security by processing sensitive data locally. Fog nodes are commonly deployed in scenarios where real-time or low-latency processing is required, such as in industrial automation, smart cities, and autonomous vehicles.

IEEE publishes standards related to fog computing include:

“IEEE Standard for Adoption of OpenFog Reference Architecture for Fog Computing,” in IEEE Std 1934-2018 , vol., no., pp.1-176, 2 Aug. 2018, doi: 10.1109/IEEESTD.2018.8423800.

“IEEE Standard for Edge/Fog Manageability and Orchestration,” in IEEE Std 1935-2023, pp.1-68, 17 July 2023, doi: 10.1109/IEEESTD.2023.10186301.

Addressing the complex issues surrounding the mitigation of climate change requires innovative approaches that leverage technology, data, and collaboration on a global and human scale. In recent years, the concept of Cyber-Physical-Social Systems (CPSS) has emerged as a powerful framework for tackling climate change by integrating digital technologies, physical infrastructure, and societal dynamics.

By integrating cyber (computational and communication), physical (sensors and actuators), and social (human interactions and behaviors) components, CPSS aims to improve efficiency, safety, and effectiveness for such areas as transportation, healthcare, and urban planning.

AI technologies can be a crucial component within CPSS. AI techniques, such as machine learning and natural language processing, can be used to analyze data collected by CPSS, help make decisions, and adapt system behaviors based on changing conditions.

In their paper, “Sustainability Aspects and Impacts in Cyber-Physical Social Systems, [ 1 ] ” presented at the 2021 International Conference on Cyber-Physical Social Intelligence, the authors describe CPSS as a combination of the cyber, physical, and social space, creating a sustainable network for sharing data and information about products, production practices, materials, and human skills. The authors assert that by leveraging emerging key technologies such as big data, cloud computing, and the Internet of Things, a CPSS has the potential to capture the social environment, including behaviors and habits, contributing to enhancing decision-making processes.

CPSS can play a crucial role in monitoring the impacts of a changing environment across various domains. Sensor networks deployed in a CPSS collect real-time data on temperature, humidity, air quality, and other indicators [ 2 ]. These data streams enable scientists and engineers to assess the state of the environment by identifying trends and predicting future climate scenarios with greater accuracy. This can be helpful to policymakers in determining protocols or regulations. For example, remote sensing technologies facilitate monitoring of urban environments, providing valuable insights into the ecosystem’s health [ 3 ].

CPSS are also involved in implementing strategies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Smart grid systems [ 4 ], which integrate digital sensors and control mechanisms into the electrical grid, can help enable more efficient management of energy resources, optimization of power distribution, and integration of renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Smart transportation systems leverage CPSS to optimize traffic flow, reduce congestion, and optimize locations of charging stations for electric vehicles.

Building climate-resilient infrastructure is essential for adapting to extreme weather events, sea-level rise, and water scarcity. CPSS offer innovative solutions for designing, monitoring, and managing resilient infrastructure [ 5 ] that can withstand environmental stressors and protect vulnerable communities. Sensor networks embedded in bridges, dams, and buildings provide early warnings of structural damage and enable proactive maintenance to prevent failures during extreme events.

CPSS can facilitate the development of intelligent water-management systems that optimize the allocation of water resources, mitigate flood risks, and enhance drought resilience. By integrating data from weather forecasts, soil moisture sensors, and water distribution networks, these systems can dynamically adjust irrigation schedules, manage stormwater runoff, and conserve water resources in agriculture, urban areas, and natural ecosystems.

The extensive adoption of IoT and CPSS has led to a rapid accumulation of sensor data, with billions of IP-enabled sensors continuously monitoring physical processes. The authors of “IoT/CPS Ecosystem for Efficient Electricity Consumption [ 6 ]” presented at the 2019 Tenth International Green and Sustainable Computing Conference (IGSC) point out that the resulting “deployment of fog nodes aims to enrich the network edge with ample computing resources, facilitating real-time data analytics through artificial intelligence and machine learning algorithms to handle the vast volumes of data generated by IoT and CPSS.”

A key element of CPSS is tying the technology to society. The social dimension of CPSS is instrumental in fostering citizen engagement, raising awareness, and driving behavioral change to support actions. Digital platforms and social media integrated into CPSS enable individuals and communities to access information, share knowledge, and participate in collective decision-making processes related to climate change mitigation and adaptation. Crowd-sourced data-collection initiatives enable citizens to monitor local environmental conditions, report environmental hazards, and contribute to scientific research efforts.

Additionally, CPSS can facilitate the development of personalized feedback systems that support individuals in tracking their carbon footprint and energy consumption. By providing real-time feedback, these systems can motivate individuals to adopt greener habits, such as reducing energy usage, conserving water, and using public transportation.

While CPSS hold considerable potential, navigating the intricacies of their design remains a challenge. Integrating human elements into CPSS also poses several hurdles, including the general unpredictability of human behaviors along with privacy concerns. CPSS are inherently complex due to the diverse mix of network, software, and hardware components they incorporate.

Still, CPSS represent a powerful paradigm for addressing multifaceted challenges by integrating digital technologies, physical infrastructure, and societal dynamics.

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[1] C. Semeraro, M. Caggiano, and M. Dassisti, “Sustainability Aspects and Impacts in Cyber-Physical Social Systems,” 2021 International Conference on Cyber-Physical Social Intelligence (ICCSI), Beijing, China, 2021, pp. 1-6,doi: 10.1109/ICCSI53130.2021.9736167.

[2] S. Kumaran, M. G. Shankar, P. Krithikraj, and M. Karthik, “An Intelligent Framework for Wireless Sensor Networks in Environmental Monitoring,” 2023 2nd International Conference on Automation, Computing and Renewable Systems (ICACRS), Pudukkottai, India, 2023, pp. 334-340,doi: 10.1109/ICACRS58579.2023.10404602.

[3] Q. Gao, X. Shen and W. Niu, “Large-Scale Synthetic Urban Dataset for Aerial Scene Understanding,” in IEEE Access, vol. 8, pp. 42131-42140, 2020, doi: 10.1109/ACCESS.2020.2976686.

[4] H. Li and J. B. Song, “Communications for distributed state estimation in CPSs with application in smart grids,” 2015 IEEE International Conference on Smart Grid Communications (SmartGridComm), Miami, FL, USA, 2015, pp. 701-706, doi: 10.1109/SmartGridComm.2015.7436383.

[5] J. Gong, W. A. Wallace, and J. E. Mitchell, “Decision modeling for resilient infrastructures,” Proceedings of 2011 IEEE International Conference on Intelligence and Security Informatics, Beijing, China, 2011, pp. 210-212, doi: 10.1109/ISI.2011.5984083.

[6] S. Alharthi, P. Johnson, M. Alharthi, and C. Jose, “IoT/CPS Ecosystem for Efficient Electricity Consumption : Invited Paper,” 2019 Tenth International Green and Sustainable Computing Conference (IGSC), Alexandria, VA, USA, 2019, pp. 1-7, doi: 10.1109/IGSC48788.2019.8957164.