One of the largest industry-led projects of the Security Research programme is gearing up for technology demonstrations later this year in the EU’s Mediterranean and southern Atlantic littoral areas to test the ability of public authorities to survey the EU's southern maritime border.
The idea is to create a “system-of-systems” environment where data and operational pictures can be seamlessly exchanged between a wide diversity of public end-users such as coast guards, environmental and fishery control agencies, navies, customs and immigration authorities in different Member States.
Known as PERSEUS (“Protection of European seas and borders through the intelligent use of surveillance”), the 48-month project was launched in January 2011 with a total budget of EUR 43.6 million, of which the EU is contributing 62 percent (EUR 27 million). The project has 29 partners from 12 countries and has now reached its mid-way point.
After two years of study, industry experts involved in the project say they have a good understanding of how to structure the connecting “tissue” between all the players – and thus are ready to launch the technology’s demonstration via scenario-based exercises along the EU’s southern coastal waters.
“We have defined the contents, scenario scripts, dates and locations of the exercises we want to do, including the availability of national assets to be involved,” Fernando Barbero Fernández, project coordinator for PERSEUS, told a DG-ENTR workshop in Madrid in March. “Thus, we now have a good idea of how the system-of-system operations should function.”
PERSEUS is an ambitious undertaking for its sheer size, number of players involved, technological goals and, above all, the potential scope of its applications which aim to knit together a common information and operational environment across so many public participants.
Indeed, 22 Member States have a maritime coast – two-thirds of the EU’s external frontier thus faces the sea – which includes nearly 900 designated sea-border crossing points. The economic and demographic aspects are just as vast, given that 40 percent of the EU’s population lives near the coast while maritime-related activities contribute around EUR 500 billion to the union’s gross national product (GNP).
According to Barbero, the project will launch its first set of four technical demonstrations in the latter half of 2013. Three will take place near the Canaries, Spain’s Gibraltar area and the central Western Mediterranean, with each based on a different operational scenario. The fourth “horizontal” one will be designed mainly to test the ability of national authorities to internally and externally exchange compatible information with each other.
PERSEUS also has implications for wider EU policy. Its results will directly support the union’s on-going initiative to strengthen the 27 Member States’ common external land and sea border operational awareness system known as Eurosur, which is expected to be covered by a EU regulation and will be implemented in association with the EU’s border management agency Frontex.
For more information about PERSEUS, see: http://www.perseus-fp7.eu/
For information about Eurosur, see: http://www.frontex.europa.eu/eurosur