Gaithersburg, MD, U.S.A. --- (METERING.COM) --- July 12, 2012 - The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has published draft guidelines to help utility companies test their procedures for upgrading meters securely from a remote location.

The draft framework offers a generic set of testing criteria to help any utility determine whether its method of upgrading meters conforms with the security and functionality requirements in the National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) standard for smart grid upgradeability (NEMA SG-AMI 1-2009, Requirements for Smart Meter Upgradeability).

Allowing for different means of ensuring the firmware remains up to date, the draft guidelines offer a test framework that includes test procedures, detailed steps for conducting the test, reviewing results, and producing records to assess and report on these results.

For each relevant requirement in NEMA SG-AMI 1-2009, the document identifies the information to be provided by the vendor to facilitate testing, and the high level test procedures to be conducted by the tester/laboratory to determine conformance.

“Companies will be able to tailor these generic test criteria to their own systems,” said Marianne Swanson, senior advisor for Information Security at NIST. “To make it an effective framework, we made sure that it contains consistent, repeatable tests they can run, producing documentation that contains adequate, accurate information regardless of the individual system.”

The draft guidelines were developed in conjunction with Electrosoft Services Inc. These will be enhanced on the basis of comments to the draft.

Further NIST will be working with the Department of Energy, including Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), and Electrosoft Services to utilize an existing upgrade management system that ORNL developed, and that can now be tested.

The information will also be shared with ANSI, which would like to use the NEMA standard and the guidelines as seed documents for a future NEMA-published ANSI standard.

The official comment period runs for 30 days, but development of the testing framework will continue up until publication of the document's final version in April 2013.