Visible to the public NIST CPS PWG

NIST Cyber-Physical Systems Public Working Group

What are Cyber-Physical Systems or CPS?

  • Is a CPS any engineered system with a microprocessor?
  • Do all CPS need to be connected to the internet?
  • Are there a set of basic functions and architectural elements common to all CPS?

You are invited to join us in answering these questions and charting the path to the future.

Save the date:

The first meeting of the NIST CPS PWG will to be held on June 30, 2014, 1:00 – 2:30 PM EDT via webinar. The CPS PWG is open to all interested participants and participation is free. Participants must register in advance. 

Purpose of the Group:

The Cyber-Physical Systems Public Working Group (CPS PWG) will bring together experts to help define and shape key aspects of CPS to accelerate its development and implementation within multiple sectors of our economy.

Cyber-Physical Systems or “smart” systems are co-engineered interacting networks of physical and computational components. These systems are at the heart of our critical infrastructure and form the basis of our future smart services.  These promise increased efficiency and interaction between computer networks and the physical world enabling advances that improve the quality of life, including advances such as in personalized health care, emergency response, traffic flow management, and the electric power generation and delivery. Key stakeholders in CPS have identified the need to develop a consensus definition, reference architecture, and a common lexicon and taxonomy.  These will facilitate interoperability between elements and systems, and promote communication across the breadth of CPS stakeholders. As these concepts are developed, it is critical to ensure that timing, dependability, and security are considered as first order design principles. NIST is establishing the CPS PWG to address these challenges.


CPS are smart systems, where essential properties and functionalities emerge from the networked interaction of cyber technologies—both hardware and software—with physical systems. For example, CPS architecture can:

  1. sense the current state of the system and the surrounding real world environment, and
  2. respond to provide optimal performance. CPS will have a revolutionary and pervasive impact on future manufacturing (products and services), including smart systems. 

Impacts will include production, national security, transportation, energy networks, infrastructure, and healthcare. Through this CPS PWG, challenges, barriers, and needs of critical platform technologies and transformative application domains are expected to be addressed. Potential technology and measurement themes at every stage of technological innovation will be explored, from research through the marketplace and end use.

CPS encompasses a broad range of elements, systems, and interconnections of varying levels of complexity, scope and size. An identified challenge to date is the lack of consensus definitions, reference architecture, and taxonomy to describe CPS. The CPS PWG will establish taxonomy, reference architecture, synchronization, and cybersecurity objectives, principles, and considerations that span CPS domains and disciplines. The Reference Architecture document will identify current gaps in standards and measurement challenges, and can be leveraged as input to the development of standards for interoperability and compatibility across architectural layers and between components and systems.


The CPS PWG is intended to bring together a diverse set of technical stakeholder communities including industry, academic, and government R&D experts working on existing and planned cyber physical systems.

Subgroups and Meetings

The PWG will be composed of four sub-working groups: 

  1. Definitions, Taxonomy, and Reference Architecture 
  2. Use Cases
  3. Timing and Synchronization
  4. Cybersecurity and Privacy

Participants may choose to be members of one or more sub-groups. The NIST CPS PWG Sub-Groups will meet virtually bi-weekly, and also have two combined face-to-face meetings will be held over the next six months.  The initial webinar meeting will be held on June 30, 2014, 1:00 – 2:30 PM EDT.

Dates and dial-in information for the bi-weekly subgroup meetings will be announced at the initial meeting and added to this web site after the initial meeting.

Definitions, Taxonomy and Reference Architecture – This subgroup will develop a consensus definition of CPS and identify a common taxonomy to promote communications across CPS stakeholders and domains.

This subgroup will identify a classification model based on common features, capabilities, and characteristics to inform the development of reference architecture. The reference architecture will include the identification of foundational goals, characteristics, common roles, actors, and interfaces, across the breadth of CPS domains. The reference architecture will be designed to include applicable cybersecurity and privacy considerations. The current NIST draft notional CPS reference architecture will serve as one source of input to this working group. 

Use Cases –This subgroup will identify CPS use cases, both current and envisioned, in specific sectors, domains, and applications to understand how actors within CPS systems will interact and provide input on functional requirements to the reference architecture subgroup. The use cases will be used to identify and evaluate common CPS characteristics, actors, interfaces, and associated applied cybersecurity objectives and considerations.

Timing and Synchronization – This sub-group includes an existing organization, Time Aware Applications, Computers and Communications Systems (TAACCS), led by NIST. This subgroup will ensure that the Reference Architectures, and the Use Cases have appropriate timing and synchronization considerations. The timing and synchronization subgroup will evaluate the timing needs and explore what research needs to be done and optimal directions to satisfy those needs.

Cybersecurity and Privacy – Although CPS encompasses a broad and diverse range of sectors, domains, and applications, it is uniformly expected that cybersecurity and privacy considerations must be included in all phases of the system development lifecycle, from design through implementation, maintenance, and disposition. The primary goal of the Cybersecurity and Privacy subgroup is to develop a cybersecurity and privacy strategy for the common elements of CPS that includes a focus on the identification, implementation, and monitoring of specific cybersecurity activities (including the identification, protection, detection, response and recovery of CPS elements) and outcomes for CPS in the context of a risk management program. Where applicable standards, guidelines, and measurement metrics do not exist, this subgroup will identify areas for further CPS cybersecurity research and development.

Event Details