By ROBERT DRAPERBRUSSELS – The race to publish regulations for the operation of remotely piloted aerial systems (RPAS), or drones, is accelerating as various regulatory authorities and coordination organisations finally begin to release their findings. This came to light at a conference here on 3-4 March, organised by the US industry Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI).Coordination between the bodies is generally good due to the relatively tight-knit community doing the footwork and the sharing of data among stakeholders. Moreover, a key entity is shaping up to take the lead on hammering out rules for the sector. And there are a still a lot of operational aspects to tackle, including certain critical issues such as...Read More »
EU’s ICT strategic research agenda soon to unveil path forward for industry and research in Europe’s digital market beyond 2020
By CHRIS DALBYBRUSSELS – The group of experts within the European Commission’s Network and Information Security (NIS) Platform charged with producing a strategic research agenda (SRA) in the sector has virtually completed their work. A draft version of the agenda will soon be publicly released by Working Group 3 (WG3) for comment and feedback.That step was announced during WG3’s meeting on “EU Industry Innovation and Competitiveness,” which took place here on 2 March.Fabio Martinelli, WG3’s co-chair, told the meeting’s participants that agenda’s deliverables for security ICT research, business cases and “innovation” paths are completed fulfilled, and that he hopes to publish the SRA by the end of...Read More »
By BROOKS TIGNER BRUSSELS – The EU’s ability to prevent small arms and light weapons leaking from its territory to foreign conflicts such as those in Ukraine or the Middle East is “lamentable” and needs revision, says the European Parliament’s (EP) Alliance of Liberals and Democrats (ALDE) Group. To that, one could add better control of arms and weaponry entering and circulating inside the 28 EU countries as well, the group said.In view of the January 2015 Paris killings of Charlie Hebdo cartoonists (not to mention earlier murders in southern France, and here in the Belgian capital), much stronger action is needed – beyond “task forces and action plans”, ALDE officials and others said during a hearing on the subject at the EP in early March. The Hebdo killings, which left 17 dead, immediately prompted calls from EU leaders for tighter coordination and information exchanges among their bureaucracies to clamp down on illicit arms and light weapons circulating within the EU.According to ALDE, it is “too easy” for illicit arms to transit from Europe’s own territory to war zones, including eastern Ukraine’s secessionist rebels. “This is a very serious problem” MEP Pavel Telička, ALDE’s vice-president, said at the 3 March event organised by his group. “The EU needs an effective game plan to fight this cross-border scourge. What we have in terms of [EU] regulation is not sufficient.”Arms experts invited to address the hearing said there are several critical steps Europe needs take. Kathi Lynn Austin, executive director of the Conflict Awareness Project, said the EU needs new legislation that is structured to create a far finer...Read More »
New recommendations on stalled European PNR proposal take European Court concerns into account, but may not appease all MEPs
By TERI SCHULTZ BRUSSELS – “The terrorist threat [throughout Europe] remains at an extremely high level — do not underestimate it,” French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve warned after a Justice and Home Affairs meeting in Brussels on March 12.Cazeneuve is pressing members of the European Parliament (MEPs) to end their blockade of a Europe-wide system of sharing airline passenger name records (PNR). “Every minute lost in procrastination is another opportunity given to terrorists to hit our values and our country,” he said. “This is not acceptable.”Eighteen French and British MEPs issued a joint demand on 2 March for their colleagues to approve a European PNR system, calling it the “tool which we should adopt most urgently” in the fight against terrorism and criticising its opponents.“It’s regrettable that socialist and liberal groupings in the European Parliament have not given greater support to the PNR system,” they said in a joint letter published in the Telegraph and Le Figaro, “arguing that security should always take second place in respect to people’s private lives. For us, both can and should be treated equally.” They argue that because only some countries are gathering PNR data, “terrorists take advantage of the gaps.”Cazeneuve expressed his hope that a PNR agreement can be agreed upon, and in place by the end of this year, on the basis of a new report submitted on 24 February by Timothy Kirkhope, rapporteur for the European Parliament’s Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE). A strong advocate of PNR, the British conservative MEP is trying to bridge the gaps between...Read More »
Against the backdrop of the Crimea and Ukraine crises and an uncomfortably high dependency on energy imports, good news about European energy security has been hard to come by recently. There are positive possibilities, however, if one knows where to look.EU policy makers have reacted to an increasingly volatile energy security situation in recent months. The European Commission has been tasked with a steadily expanding list of major reports analyzing aspects of Europe’s energy challenges and proposals to improve it. In spring 2014, eurocrats were busy churning out an analysis of energy pricing structures throughout the Union, and as the autumn arrived, Europe had a new...Read More »
- Simulation tools for estimating the locations of survival spaces (after a structural collapse) and identify the location of survivors for different construction types and building materials
- Decision and planning modules for advanced casualty and damage estimation that will be based on input coming from airborne and ground-based laser-scanning and imaging data
- Integration of i) existing and novel sensors (electromagnetic, vision, chemical) for detecting and high-accurate localisation and ii) mobile phones signals for estimating the number of the trapped humans
- A snake robot mechanism (integrated with the sensors) to penetrate inside the rubble to locate more accurately trapped victims
- A robust, resilient and interoperable communication platform to ensure that the sensors data can reach the command centre
- Enhanced data analysis techniques and 3-D visualization tool of the mission place to be operated by the crisis managers and the decision makers. A suitable decision support system will be used for planning & managing complex USaR operations
- System Integration of all the aforementioned software and hardware subcomponents (INACHUS platform)
- Contribution to standards: interaction with international organizations and public authorities in the fields of USaR, through an early defined and developed User Group, to ensure strong links with the user communities and standardisation bodies
- Consideration of societal impacts and legal/ethical issues of the proposed solution at the onset of the project feeding into the technical solutions
- Numerous field and simulated tests properly designed and executed for presenting the capabilities of the INACHUS integrated platform
- Appropriate training package and extensive training courses to the First Responders.
National and EU policymakers alike splintered over approaches for combating terrorism, though convergence in one area is coming
By BROOKS TIGNERBRUSSELS – Three terrorist events in three countries – France, Belgium, Denmark – for the first six weeks of 2015 alone. It’s a worrisome trend for Europe, and one that has national capitals scrambling to construct a common and coherent front against the menace.Yet the EU’s three branches of Council, Commission and European Parliament (EP) diverge from each other over the essentials for combating terrorism:
- Commission and Council want approval of the EU’s 2011 proposal for a European passenger name record system. The EP has great reservations over privacy concerns.
- Council wants revision of the Schengen Border Code to more easily impose national controls when needed. The other two branches oppose this.
- EP says Europe’s terrorism challenge calls for EU intelligence agency and EU-level intelligence-gathering. Council won’t countenance the idea, arguing it’s a national affair only.
- The Commission supports national plans to seize the E passports of suspected jihadists; many members of the EP and other national governments do not agree.
- Council and Commission want more information access for law enforcement authorities to EU databases such as Schengen, Eurodac (for fingerprints) and others. The EP is very reluctant.
- Commission wants better implementation of existing Schengen rules, but many national capitals are laxest about them or lag far behind.
- EP wants tighter linkage between EU’s internal external security and internal security policies, and a stronger European External Action Service (the EU’s foreign policy wing). Council opposes anything beyond cosmetic change in these directions or, if so, changes with heavy national political control.
Frequent travellers who cede personal details to recognition databases for quick queues could be targeted for more than they bargained for
By TERI SCHULTZBRUSSELS – Sharing personal details such as meal preferences in order to skip long lines at the next trip to the airport may sound good to frequent travellers. But what if the same machines that scan ID chips also furtively scrutinise faces to analyse moods and single out individuals for possible malicious intent?That’s where “FastPass” and automated border control (ABC) systems are headed, says Irish privacy advocate Mark Maguire, who warns that such emotional profiling is...Read More »