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Policy and research in security

The INDECT project – improving accuracy of existing video surveillance

This page presents key basic information and responses to common questions about the INDECT project. For more detailed information please refer to the official Project website managed by the Project coordinator.

Not a European surveillance system

Contrary to widespread allegations, there are no plans for a European wide Orwellian surveillance system. INDECT will simply enable existing video surveillance systems in small areas to better react in crisis situations (such as violence on train platforms, crowd panics, hooligans throwing objects). Such video surveillance systems are already installed in underground stations or in football stadiums. INDECT will not add any new cameras, but will enable existing systems to be more efficient as it will help automate police or security officers' analysis of the huge amount of images provided through video surveillance cameras.

There will never be a centralized European INDECT system. The EU is merely co-financing a research project implemented by universities and research centres in 12 EU Member States with a total budget of € 15 mio (EU contribution of € 10,9 mio). It will then be up to Members States and research partners to implement decentralised and focussed improved video surveillance systems - in restricted areas - to improve security at places where risk is higher that persons can be harmed.

The main characteristics in a nutshell

  • INDECT is a security research project co-financed by the EU's Framework Programme 7 for Research and Innovation (FP7) (INDECT = Intelligent information system supporting observation, searching and detection for security of citizens in urban environment)
  • INDECT is not installing any cameras in the EU or filming people at random. It  is also not linked to any of existing databases and social networks. All that INDECT is working on is an improved way to analyse the existing images of video surveillance cameras.
  • INDECT is thus developing algorithms to identify images that allow the detection of dangerous or criminal behaviour. Examples could for instance be crowd panic during public events, or when people throw objects in football stadiums.
  • There is no secret information on INDECT that is not published. There is nothing "secret" about INDECT. All the information on this project can be found on the website of the project and on the websites of the Commission.
  • INDECT is only tested by volunteers: Like most research projects INDECT is tested by volunteers. It will not be tested in real life situations. No testing of the research carried out by INDECT will take place during sport/entertainment events. An explicit disclaimer has been uploaded on the website of INDECT in 2011 on this matter.
  • Technologies developed by INDECT are intended for police and other law enforcement authorities of the Member States.
  • Should Member States intend to use such new technologies within the scope of Union law, they are bound to comply with the existing national and EU laws.

Advantages of INDECT

INDECT could have helped to avoid mass panic during the Loveparade in Duisburg, Germany

One could easily imagine situations where such a technology could have been very useful, like the crowd rush at the Loveparade in Duisburg or the tragedy in the Heysel Stadium in Brussels in 1985.

The INDECT project is trying to tackle an essential problem for police work – there is too much surveillance footage to monitor.

Mass panics can be better dealt with, ambulances better directed, lives can be saved

In times of crisis or attacks it is nearly impossible for the police to monitor all the information provided by today's surveillance technologies. The most explicit example for this was the London bombing in 2005 which lead to the deaths of 52 innocent people.
Following these attacks, the metropolitan police had to withdraw hundreds of police from the streets and put them in front of screens to identify the attackers and their background.

Media do not report accurately on INDECT

Several media outlets have reported misleading information on the nature and aims of the INDECT project. This is a sign of a healthy democratic society in which media are free and no one can impose boundaries on the free flow of information. For the sake of accuracy, we have listed below a selection of misleading articles accompanied by the correct facts.

  • INDECT was not tested during the UEFA football championship. This was incorrectly reported by Die ZeitDer Spiegel, AFP, Focus, Der Standard
  • Poland did not withdraw from the project. This was incorrectly reported by Dziennik Gazeta Prawna in the article “O tym, jak MSW wystraszylo sie Anonymusa” page: 1 by Robert Zielinski on Monday, April 16, 2012 ; and by  Polska The Times in the article “MSW i policja wycofuja sie ze wspólpracy nad INDECT” page: 3 by Anita Czupryn on Monday, April 16, 2012

Not the EU, but researchers in 12 EU Member States work on INDECT

The European Commission is not working on INDECT, but is financing research carried in 12 Member States.

Participant Organisation

Country of Origin

Akademia Górniczo-Hutnicza im. Stanisława Staszica w Krakowie (project coordinator)Poland
Apertus Tavoktatas Fejlesztesi Modszertani Kozpont Tanacsado Es Szolgaltato Kozhasznu TarsasagHungary
Fachhochschule Technikum WienAustria
Ministerstwo Spraw Wewnetrznych i AdministracjiPoland
Police Service of Northern IrelandUnited Kingdom
YORKUnited Kingdom

The European Commission gives a contribution of € 10,9 million

The INDECT project is financed within the Framework Programme 7 for Research and Innovation (FP7). The overall budget is EUR 14.8 million of which the European Commission's financial contribution is EUR 10.9 million. You can also visit the project page within the FP7 pages.

Why is the European Commission funding INDECT?

The legal basis for security research projects is the 7th Research Framework Programme (FP7) and its Specific Programme for Cooperation. It stipulates that the FP7 Security Theme should: “[…] build up the required capabilities, emphasis will be on issues such as: […] awareness (e.g. intelligence gathering, collection, exploitation, sharing; alerting), detection (e.g. hazardous substances, individuals or groups, suspect behaviour) […]. Each year the Commission drafts a work programme setting out in more detail the topics to be addressed. Approval of the INDECT project arose from the 2007 FP7 Work Programme for Security research which was approved by Member States and based on their explicit research demands and needs. A subsequent evaluation of independent experts concluded that the proposal for the INDECT project fulfilled in the most appropriate way the requirements laid out in the Work Programme. Following this evaluation, the selection of the INDECT project was yet again approved by the Member States.

INDECT was the subject of an ethics review

This project is based on the Security Work Programme 2007, which was approved by the Member States. INDECT was selected following a scientific and technical evaluation by independent experts. Both concluded that, following the adoption of the review requirements, the research is in full compliance with legal rules and obligations to be observed by the EU and by its Member States.

All projects are bound to comply with strict criteria in the processing of personal data

The EU does not implement the results of research projects funded under FP7, however Member States could do so. The technologies developed under INDECT are intended for police and other law enforcement authorities of the Member States. Should Member States use such new technologies, they are bound to comply with all existing EU laws.

All projects funded under FP7, including INDECT, are bound to comply with strict criteria in the processing of personal data, with Article 7 of Directive 1995/46/EC(Directive on the protection of individuals with regard to the processing of personal data and on the free movement of such data)  being the appropriate legal basis. This requires inter alia that Article 8 of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rightsbe complied with, which gives citizens of signatory countries the right to the protection of their personal data.

Does INDECT harm our right to privacy and basic freedoms?

The INDECT project will not involve processing of any personal data without the prior written consent of individuals. Should any personal data be used during the project, this will be done on the basis of “informed consent” of individuals participating in the tests.

Peace, democracy and the protection of fundamental rights are the very basis of the EU. Please visit the European Commission Directorate General for Justice to discover more on the policies and activities in the area of justice, fundamental rights and citizenship.

Ethical aspects are being adressed

The European Commission Directorate General for Research and Innovation has performed an ethical audit on INDECT, which concluded that INDECT did not breach any ethical requirements. There is no indication that the INDECT project has breached any rules regarding ethical or legal aspects.

As INDECT underwent a strict evaluation process, any breach of the ethical/legal rules would have been corrected from the outset.

INDECT also has an Ethics Board which supervises the ethical aspects of the project's activities. The Ethics Board ensures strict fulfilment of the EU ethical rules on privacy, data protection, prevention of dual use etc. The Ethics Board is composed of 5 internal and 3 external members. Composition of the ethics board.

If you wish to obtain additional information on the INDECT project, please contact us at the following email address:

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