intelligent Watchdog — Decision Support System

Developed to assist control room operators in the Oil and Gas industry, intelligent Watchdog (iWD™) is decision-making software that replicates aspects of human reasoning and assists human controllers when critical decisions need to be made quickly. The main benefits of iWD are to:

  • help control room operators make the right decisions under stress;
  • work alongside operators as a virtual co-pilot;
  • programmed with the company’s Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) and linked to the network to get real-time data;
  • monitor the process and use real-time data to reason about the most appropriate SOP, then alert the operator.
  • provide graphical tracing through the SOPs so complex situations can be better understood;
  • help address the “alarm management problem” by analyzing the mass of real-time data and providing advice to the operator.
  • augment the Facility Safety Case by building a safety assurance argument based on the certifiable C-BDI reasoning engine.

All organisations in the Oil and Gas industry have countless sets of SOPs to define best practice. These have evolved, over time, from regulation, experience, component specifications and common sense. During training, operators learn and develop experiences based on using these SOPs ‘by the book’, but on duty, they tend to rely on memory to recall the correct steps to resolve problems. However, when the environment changes abruptly and potentially dangerous situations arise, memory may be challenged and there isn’t time to search for the appropriate SOP. Here, the iWD assists the operator to make fast, correct decisions by providing SOPs appropriate to the situation, either on request or as the situation requires. The iWD draws data from the Oil and Gas facility where it has been installed. It uses this information to form an internal representation of the state or condition of the process it is monitoring. Based upon the perceived state, the iWD recommends a SOP to be performed (or accepts a selection made by the operator). The iWD then ensures that all appropriate information surrounding  the SOP is made available, as it tracks the operator’s progression through the SOP. This also enables the iWD to warn the operator should a step be missed, performed out of sequence, or done incorrectly. 

In failure conditions there is no substitute for operator experience. The industry is facing the loss of substantial experience as the baby boomers retire or leave the workforce taking their experience with them. This has major ramifications when something goes wrong, e.g., a component degrades or fails.  In these situations operators rely on their experience to mitigate or rectify the problem – they may have faced the same or a similar situation before (either in simulation or in practice). The iWD  presents an opportunity to capture some of this experience by allowing experienced operators to encode what they would do in complex situations.

The iWD is based upon C-BDI™, AOS’s flagship 4th generation reasoning engine. The ”C” in C-BDI stands for certifiable. C-BDI has been designed as a generic reasoning engine to support demanding safety-critical applications containing various levels of safety criticality. C-BDI has been engineered from the ground up to provide security and determinism; as a result, C-BDI guarantees protection to the hosted applications.  

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