The European Union has almost 7,500 km of external land borders and more than 57,000 km of external maritime borders and coastlines. These numbers show just how vast and difficult it might be to secure our borders. They also open up a tempting market for illegal activities, ranging from substance trafficking to border crime and human trafficking, which all Member States need to fight against. The crime world, however, evolves and responds quickly to the changing environment, adapting and rethinking its strategies on how to cross EU’s borders without detection. These threats and criminal activities need to be tackled by the whole of Europe together, making sure their measures are as adaptive, responsive and proactive as possible.
According to the 2019 report of FRONTEX, the European Border and Coast Guard Agency, European Border Guards were able to seize more than 125 tons of drugs, detected more than 650 drug smugglers, rescued nearly 55,000 migrants and detected almost 7,000 falsified documents. These numbers, overwhelming as they are, represent only the tip of the iceberg.
How can we gain a clear picture of these threats and challenges and respond to them more efficiently?
Part of FRONTEX’s founding remit, upon being set up by the European Council, was to ensure integrated border management at Europe’s external borders, with a view to managing the crossing of the external borders efficiently. This includes addressing migratory challenges and potential future threats at those borders. Since the start of its operations, FRONTEX has grown to be the European authority uniting under its umbrella Border and Coast Guards from all EU Member States, providing them with necessary assets, training and technology to fight border crimes successfully.
However, just as the criminal modus operandi adapts over time to the changing environment, so should the service. And this is already happening; witness the creation of the ECBG Standing Corps – Europe’s first uniformed service – or the investment in modern technologies and solutions enhancing the responsiveness and efficiency of border services. The industry is ready to respond to these demands with various solutions for all needs the service might require.
Some of the industry capabilities worth focusing on in the near future are:
- Eurosur Communication Network, constantly developed and evolving since 2010, establishing information-exchange and cooperation mechanisms, which enable the different national border-surveillance authorities to exchange information and cooperate at tactical, operational and strategic levels both within and between the Member States as well as with FRONTEX.
- Easily-deployable, all terrain mobile land/air/maritime platforms equipped with surveillance systems (e.g. thermal imaging, day/night cameras, radars, sensors) and communication systems allowing near-to-real time supervision of the current situation in the corresponding Coordination Centers.
- Unauthorized drone detection and capture platforms and systems to counter and reduce smuggling activities, especially on unprotected or inaccessible border sections
- Passport and visa fraud-detection systems, ensuring higher detectability of illegal migrants at Border Crossing Points
- Earth Observation imagery to detect suspicious behavior of vessels at sea
- Long Endurance Remotely Piloted/Unmanned Aerial Systems to support Search and Rescue operations and perform land and maritime surveillance
To discover more innovating solutions, visit LIMEX’20 “Innovation in Border Protection” which starts today and runs until January 30 in the Spanish Army’s Higher Polytechnic School (Escuela Politécnica Superior del Ejército de Tierra) in Madrid.
LIMEX’20’s array of top-level lectures, exhibitions and demos tackles the latest hi-tech border-protection solutions being developed by the industry in response to user demand. The Spanish Guardia Civil and the National Police-force, who between them hold Spain’s main border-protection remit, will be present at the second LIMEX together with representatives from the armed forces and supranational agencies.
GMV will be running a stand and giving a lecture on the maritime security project MARISA (Maritime Integrated Surveillance Awareness). Drop in and see us there!
Author: Jarosław Behan
 Regulation (EU) 2016/1624 of the European Parliament and of the Council
Las opiniones vertidas por el autor son enteramente suyas y no siempre representan la opinión de GMV
The author’s views are entirely his own and may not reflect the views of GMV