Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) is a control system architecture that uses computers, networked data communications and graphical user interfaces for high-level process supervisory management, but uses other peripheral devices such as programmable logic controller (PLC) and discrete PID controllers to interface with the process plant or machinery. The use of SCADA has been also considered for management and operations of project-driven-process in construction.
The operator interfaces that enable monitoring and the issuing of process commands, such as controller set point changes, are handled through the SCADA computer system. However, the real-time control logic or controller calculations are performed by networked modules that connect to the field sensors and actuators.
The SCADA concept was developed as a universal means of remote access to a variety of local control modules, which could be from different manufacturers allowing access through standard automation protocols. In practice, large SCADA systems have grown to become very similar to distributed control systems in function, but using multiple means of interfacing with the plant.
They can control large-scale processes that can include multiple sites, and work over large distances as well as small distance. It is one of the most commonly-used types of industrial control systems, however there are concerns about SCADA systems being vulnerable to cyberwarfare/cyberterrorism attacks.