Safety-Critical Systems: The Next Generation

Abstract submissions due: 1 Nov. 2012
Final submissions due: 1 Dec. 2012
Publication date: May/June 2013


In May/June 2013, IEEE Computer Society publications will take an unprecedented look at safety-critical systems with coordinated publication of special issues in IEEE Software and IEEE Security & Privacy
Safety-critical computer-based systems are woven into the fabric of our lives. These days, they can't be safe without being secure—yet security is just one of many challenges. These systems must be trusted to work adequately given user behavior, system interactions, changing environment and expectations, organizational turbulence, regulatory caution, routine component and operator failure, the complexity of international projects, and adaptation and refurbishment. In addition, there are the security-related issues such as intentional, malicious attacks and supply-chain risks. 
IEEE S&P magazine's special issue will articulate the challenges and benefits of the next generation of safety-critical systems, including driverless cars, new air traffic control systems, new nuclear power plant control systems, networked patient care and personal apps, and new military systems. In addition, there will be emerging technologies for building and assuring these systems, such as cyber/physical components, new development frameworks, and analytical-based assurance through proof of properties and massive statistical testing. There will be a new generation of people whose attitudes and education impact how we develop and assure systems, and there will be legacy systems that next-generation systems must coexist with and eventually replace.
How do we assess safety and security in a world in which adverse events might be infrequent but have huge, lasting impact? What tools, techniques, and methodologies are available for understanding the risks, building trustworthy and dependable software, and predicting the extent to which they contribute to safety and security? Is regulation cautiously responsible or just out of step with technology?
We welcome case studies, experience reports, practices, research results, and standards reports. Our readers are eager to learn about industry experiences, especially resulting from empirical studies that apply software engineering principles to this domain as well as how past successes and failures should inform the next generation.
Possible topics for the special issue include


  • Architecture and systems engineering: model-based approaches (for example, model-driven architectures and formal methods), development, and engineering. 
  • Software development and verification and validation: mode based, formal methods, and other approaches. 
  • Certification and regulation: evolution of certified products, components, and processes; reuse of certified parts; experience and challenges of modular certification and recertification; costs and benefits of using standards and validation of standards; and regulation principles and practice.
  • Evaluation: confidence building; safety and assurance cases and communication; and specific applications or domains, such as in nuclear, medical, or autonomous systems.
  • Large-scale critical systems: specific challenges and how they should be addressed in these social, technical, and political systems. 
  • Relationships between safety and security: security-informed safety—what it means and how to do it; how safety is addressed with respect to other qualities; and how overall resilience is addressed.
  • Challenges: adaptation, evolution, and "accidental" systems.
  • Return on investment (ROI) in critical software: associated costs (direct and indirect) and ROI calculation and enhancement.
The related IEEE Software call for papers is here: The S&P and Software magazine special issue editors will coordinate the two issues with emphasis in S&P on next-generation issues and evaluation. 

Submission Guidelines

Submissions will be subject to the IEEE Computer Society's peer-review process. Articles should be at most 6,000 words, with a maximum of 15 references, and should be understandable to a broad audience of people interested in security and privacy. The writing style should be down to earth, practical, and original. Authors should not assume that the audience will have specialized experience in a particular subfield. All accepted articles will be edited according to the IEEE Computer Society style guide. Submit your papers to Scholar­One at Submit abstracts via email to the Guest Editors listed below.


Contact the Guest Editors: Robin E. Bloomfield, Adelard and City University London (, and Jay Lala, Raytheon Company (