SFINA is one of the very few tools that can be used to study inter-dependent flow networks of the same or different type. For instance, different national power grids can be inter-connected via flow gates to exchange power that improves their reliability, decrease the power generation as well as dispatch costs and run cross-border energy markets that implement federal energy policies. Similarly, networks of different types can share inter-dependencies that have a critical impact on the overall reliability of the networks. For instance, power and ICT networks influence each other as ICT networks require energizing and power networks rely on ICT networks for control and management influencing their resilience. Power networks also share influences with transport networks in case of emergencies and physical catastrophies, for instance, earthquakes.
The simulation approach of inter-dependent networks in SFINA is the following: Each network is assumed an autonomous entity managed by a SFINA agent. This is often the case in real-world as system operators have full administrative priviledges over their network, however, interactions with other networks is either mediated or follows rules that are defined by protocols, standards and domain conventions. For instance, the power networks of two neighboring countries are independently regulated and operated, nevertheless, power exchanges can be introduced in the context of an energy market. SFINA models these the inter-dependencies by introducing special directed weighted inter-links that connect nodes in different networks. These inter-links can distribute flows from one network to another. These flows can become sources of risks and vulnerabilties if not designed and controled properly. But they can also play the role of safety pillars in case of emergencies by orchestrating intelligent and synergetic exchange of flows that benefit both networks. SFINA provides a modeling, prototyping and evaluation platform for building such synergies to improve the reliability of inter-dependent networks.
Technical information about the development of flow distribution mechanisms among inter-dependent networks is illustrated in the SFINA tutorial.