SWOT Analysis of Cyber Physical Systems (CPS)

Organization of the Chapter

Section 1 presents the terms and terminologies for the user to understand the chapter.

Section 2 introduces the SWOT framework for a cyber physical system, which provides a high-level summary of the subsequent chapters.

Section 3 highlights the key and unique strengths of a CPS.

Section 4 examines in detail the weakness or challenges associated with CPS. The challenges are classified into three main domains - physical, technical and security challenges.

In Section 5, the opportunities for CPS to make a difference in different verticals - transportation, manufacturing and healthcare, to name but a few, are discussed. Also, the social and environmental impacts of CPS are discussed in this section.

Section 6 focuses on the main threats to CPS. The threats are mainly analyzed from the security perspective, namely what is the nature of the threats and what is the impact they can potentially have on the systems.

Network and social threats that pose a challenge to CPS are also discussed.

Section 7 is forward looking, discussing how CPS can play a significant role in transforming the legacy of modern systems built today by capitalizing on the technological advances, to efficiently cater for the demands of the future. Several case studies, in the areas of manufacturing and healthcare, are discussed with a forward-looking outlook.

Section 8 provides an insight into how data and analytics is a fulcrum for CPS to continuously learn and adapt, enabling it to be a predictable and accurate system.

Terms and Terminologies

CPS Cyber Physical Systems

SWOT Strengths, Weakness, Opportunities and Threats

SOA "Service-Oriented Architecture, a style of software

design where services are provided to the other components by application components, through a communication protocol over a network."!1!

Augmented Reality "A technology that superimposes a computergenerated image on a user's view of the real world, thus providing a composite view/'И

IoT "Internet of Things, a system of interrelated computing devices, mechanical and digital machines, objects, animals or people that are provided with unique identifiers and the ability to transfer data over a network, without requiring human-to-human or human-to- computer interaction."!1!

SWOT Analysis of Cyber Physical Systems (CPS)

The relevance of CPS is unquestionable and unparalleled in today's fast- paced world, powered by technology in almost every sector.

The cyber physical system, with its ability to network cyber systems (computation and communication) and physical systems (sensors and actuators), has the potential to significantly impact our daily lives through the digitization of smart services. The cyber physical systems have multiple applications in diverse, real-time and complex fields, like healthcare, air-traffic control systems, ATMs, power systems, and automated transport systems, among others. It is becoming increasingly difficult to identify systems which are not cyber physical, given the penetration of electronics and software into virtually all facets of our lives. The application of CPS varies from a smaller deployment, like an Internet Protocol (IP) camera or a home router, to a huge complex deployment, such as a power grid. Moreover, the concept is inherently multi-disciplinary and multi-technological, and relevant across vastly different domains, with multiple socio-technical applications.

With any advances in technologies, where human intelligence drives the creation of machines that are super intelligent and which exceed human capabilities, there is always a balance between advantages and disadvantages.

This chapter aims at carrying out a SWOT analysis (Strength/Advantages, Weakness/Challenges, Opportunities and Threats) of CPS (Figure 2.1).


SWOT analysis of CPS

Strengths/Advantages of CPS

CPS is a promising solution for the integration of the physical and cyber worlds, because of several advantages it offers.

Interoperability and Networking

CPS has the inherent advantage of its interoperability capability with soft- ware-defined networking (SDN) in both hosted and cloud platforms. Hence, this makes it easier to deploy CPS in any enterprise-level architecture of any scale.

Human-Machine Interaction

Human form a core and integral part of CPS, so that CPS is built with a core design model, based on human and machine interactions, helping to design a simple and comprehensive system.

Dealing with Certainty

The greatest strength of CPS is its ability to deal with uncertainty and to perform well in an unreliable ecosystem.

The framework on which the CPS is built provides this ability to deal with such uncertainty and unreliability.


With advances in metrics systems, the ability to measure data with utmost precision has soared beyond the nanoscale to the pico and femto scales. The CPS taps into this advance very well and provides highly accurate information.

Continuous Learning

Advances in machine learning and comprehensive algorithms help train the CPSs continuously, through continuous feedback, making it a highly reliable system overtime.

Better System Performance

Built on a highly sophisticated framework of hardware and software computational resources, with reliable monitoring and alerting systems in place, the CPS offers a very high system performance.


CPS combines the power of the physical and cyber domains to design large- scale systems and to meet the demands of cloud computing. The physical domain involves a combination of human, mechanical motion control, sensors and the chemical/biological processes driving them. The cyber domains involve software modelled with complex algorithms, built by state-of-the-art programming tools on a highly expandable network infrastructure.


CPS is highly autonomous, due to the complex sensors integrated with the cloud. There is a feedback mechanism that drives auto-learning and -correction, thus enabling an adaptive system.

Faster Response Time

The faster response time is largely attributed to the power of the computational resources. This helps in early detection and pre-emption of failures, resulting in a robust system


While there is an ultimate goal of using cyber physical systems to transform the ecosystem into a digital and smart world, there are multiple hurdles that need to be overcome in the process, due to the numerous constraints being posed.

Physical Challenges

Bridging the Cyber and Physical Worlds

The physical environment is very difficult to model, due to various moving elements, so that developing a cyber interface with it is very cumbersome.

There needs to be a continuously evolving training model that is fed back into the system to train the systems.

Defined Boundaries in the Developing World

This is closely associated with the previous problem, in that there is no boundary to the control elements, so it is very difficult to describe a model as being complete when it has to be continuously evolving and being trained.

Networking Stability in Predictable Complex Systems

Heavy reliance on the network stability poses a challenge for the cyber physical system. Though robust network designs and outlays are created, there is still latency and interworking issues, that make the cyber physical systems unreliable at times.


To model a reliable CPS, there is a great dependency on infrastructure bandwidth. The more complex the deployment becomes, the greater are the bandwidth requirements, so that a virtual dependency is established with the bandwidth providers.

Technical Challenges

There are a number of technical issues that challenge the effectiveness of CPS.

Data Heterogeneity. Data heterogeneity sometimes results in huge variance in data samples, leading to inaccurate results in CPS and causing a failure. The variance could be due to actual differences in observations in real-life modeling, thus making it difficult to model a complex real-life system.

Reliability. The reliability stems from the unpredictability of the environment that is being modeled, so a continuous evolution is required. CPS is expected to continue to work reliably under unexpected circumstances and to adapt itself in cases of failures through continuous learning and feedback mechanisms.

Data Analytics. Data storage, aggregation and analysis from different sources of data are very challenging. CPS is expected to model a predictable behavior, based on the analysis of data feed, both real-time and historical data, from multiple incompatible and complex data systems. A robust big-data system and highly efficient machinelearning algorithms are required to power-up an efficient cyber physical system. With continuous advances in technology today, this becomes very challenging.

Privacy. With a large volume of data, especially sensitive information, being handled by CPS as they are deployed in some verticals where anonymity and privacy are of paramount importance, as in the banking sector and government agencies, a comprehensive privacy and data protection policy is needed to ensure privacy of the data being managed by CPS. Due to a substantial rise in the number of hackers, data theft always poses a huge challenge in such deployments.

Security Challenges

Security vulnerabilities pose an enormous challenge for CPS. The vulnerabilities can enter into the system from both the hardware and software elements, and potentially cause minor to critical damage to the data/system. Thus, CPS has the challenge to tackle the security threats to both the hardware and software resources, to ensure a threat-free system.

The hardware, software and network mesh opens up a vulnerable medium for threat exposure and allows an attack. The complexity of attack can vary, ranging from impacting a smaller deployment of a CPS, such as routers, IP cameras, mobile phones etc., resulting in individual losses, to effects on more complicated scenarios, like power grids, sensitive government agencies and financial institutes, that affect a large number of people. There have been many infamous attacks, like the Mirai malware attack, which impacted several websites including Twitter, Netflix, Github etc., and data thefts from famous social media websites, that have happened in the recent past. The hacking community is continuously finding more innovative and intelligent ways to hack into the systems.

There is a lot of research work underway in several top institutes and research labs to protect the CPS from such attacks and to preserve the integrity and authenticity of the systems.

< Prev   CONTENTS   Source   Next >