The EU is also holding its annual security research conference this month, from 22-24 September in Ostend, see conference website.

SCR ’10 is focussed on the EU’s R&D programme (the security research component of FP7) and includes plenary sessions on “Halfway through FP7”,  “After Lisbon: The continuum of internal and external security” and “Security as a pre-requisite for prosperity”.

In addition, there are dedicated sessions on Maritime Security, Standardisation, CBRN, Cybersecurity, Transport Security, Security of the Citizens (sic), Security of Infrastructures, Restoring Security, Improving Security, Security and Society and the coordination of EU Security Research.

As with the Berlin security research conference, “ethics and justice” are squeezed into a single session (on Security and Society). The words privacy, human rights, governance and accountability do not appear anywhere in the conference programme.

The conference also includes a “brokerage event” and exhibition to “facilitate networking between companies, scientific experts, operators and policy makers”. More than one thousand participants are expected.

The European Journalism Centre (EJC) and the European Commission are co-organising a one and a half-day briefing tackling the “current state of play on security research, its challenges and its opportunities in the future”.

A Harfang UAV at Bagram airbase in Afghanistan

Further evidence of the EU’s unswerving commitment to the introduction of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs, or pilotless ‘drone’ planes) into European airspace has emerged in recent weeks. The European Commission, however, is yet to issue as much as a single communication explaining the EU’s UAV programme or setting out policy options for the member states.  So much for openness and transparency.

At present, drones/UAVs are only permitted to operate in ‘segregated airspace’ for military operations because of fears about public safety. Manned aircraft operating in commercial airspace are subject to stringent air traffic control safety regulations; those promoting UAV’s have yet to convince regulators of their safety (see the second comment in this post for a list of notable accidents). Last week the UK Civil Aviation Authority grounded an unlicensed Merseyside Police drone following the Force’s boast that it had been used to track down a car thief.

The European Defence Agency (EDA) has just awarded a contract to the European defence giant EADS and its subsidiary Astrium, Europe’s largest space company, to lead a six-month feasibility study demonstrating the safety of UAVs in civil airspace. EADS, the self-proclaimed “leading manufacturer of UAVs in Europe”, will use a Medium Altitude Long Endurance (MALE) UAV in the attempt to convince regulators, while Astrium will provide the satellite-based services “needed to operate the UAVs safely in civil airspace”. EADS and Astrium already use this technology in Afghanistan, where the French air force have deployed one of their Harfang UAVs.

According to ASDNews, the consortium will meet key European civil and military stakeholders during the study in order to “receive their endorsements on safety and regulatory policy, and on future applications”. ASDNews also predicts that upon completion of the study, the EDA and the European Space Agency (ESA) will jointly fund a full demonstration programme. One wonders when, if ever, the European Parliament or the member states will be formally consulted?

“The outcome of this study will further reinforce our capability to propose leading-edge and secured solutions to our customers” said Bernhard Gerwert, CEO Military Air Systems, an integrated Business Unit of EADS Defence & Security. Like the European Defence Agency, FRONTEX is also doing its bit for UAVs and will host an event in Spain for manufacturers this coming June.

See previous posts on this topic:

The European Commission has published a Communication and Staff Working Paper on the development of GMES, the satellite-based, earth observation ‘system-of-systems’ for Global Monitoring for Environment and Security.

The 10 page Communication covers ‘next steps’, ‘ownership and data policy’ (with the Commission suggesting that it should own the EU’s space infrastructure), ‘governance’ (with the Commission in charge), ‘procurement’ and ‘international cooperation’.

The 8 page Staff Working Paper adds a little more detail, including costings. The current ‘development phase’, which runs from 2007-13, has set aside €2.245 billion (€624 million from Fp7 and €1.621 billion from the European Space Agency budget).

The Commission proposes that the next ‘operational phase (2014-2020) will need some €4,230 billion (all of which comes on top of the national space budgets of the member states). Forbes magazine, however, suggests that the “cash-strapped member states are reluctant to increase E.U. space funding“.

According to the organisers, “the DGI 2010 Conference is Europe’s largest annual gathering dedicated to high-level discussion addressing the major challenges of the defence and government geospatial intelligence community. Bringing together Heads of Geospatial Intelligence, GIS, Remote Sensing, Operations, and Imagery and Analysis, the conference provides a unique forum to discuss and debate the development of geospatial intelligence capabilities across the globe”.

The conference takes place in London on 25-28 January 2010. Highlights include:

  • Operations – Hear case study presentations from military & national security GIS professionals, who will show you how they have used GIS in-theatre and operations world-wide. Find out best strategies and practical realities of supporting soldiers in-theatre with effective and timely GIS intelligence. Case studies from Afghanistan, Iraq, Kosovo and many other hot-spots around the world will give you unique insight into the role of GIS in current warfare.
  • Olympics Focus – This year DGI 2010 will bring you a number of case studies from defence and government organizations responsible for GIS information and intelligence during the London 2012 Olympic Games. We are currently working with many GIS executives who have been involved in the Olympic games around the world, as well as with the London Olympic Games team.
  • National Security Focus – Interoperability between nations and organizations has become imperative. Your organization will be co-operating with many defence and national security organizations on many levels. This is why DGI 2010 is bringing you a range of national security case studies from around the world. Learn how police, ambulance, fire, transport & infrastructure services use GIS to make decisions, plan for large events and build plans for the future.

Click here to register for this event directly (you’ll need the best part of £4,000).

The European Association of Remote Sensing Companies (EARSC) reports that RapidEye, “the only geospatial solutions provider to own and operate a constellation of five identical Earth Observation satellites”, has signed a framework agreement with the European Space Agency (ESA) to provide “satellite imagery for monitoring and change detection in areas prone to natural disasters”.


Revealing interview with Josef Aschbacher, Head of the GMES Space Office. GMES is the EU’s satellite earth monitoring system. Originally it stood for Global Monitoring for Environmental Security but the acronym was changed some time last year to Global Monitoring for Environment and Security. Aschbacher speaks here the potential of GMES for “huge applications in the security and defence realm”.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about “Josef Aschbacher on Vimeo“, posted with vodpod