PRECRISIS Seminar: Protecting Public Spaces – Innovation Challenges and Priorities

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On 23 April 2024, EI hosted in Sofia an international PRECRISIS seminar, entitled “Protecting Public Spaces – Innovation Challenges and Priorities”. The event was attended by more than 50 participants from across Europe, representing a variety of thematic EU-funded projects and initiatives, working in the domains of protective security.

In his opening remarks, Ivan Sotirov, member of the Sofia Communal Council’s Public Order and Safety Committee, noted that intelligent video surveillance is a major and necessary investment to be made by the EU capitals. “All citizens should know how to react in a situation of a terrorist act. Our priority is to curb panic and conduct awareness-raising campaigns”, Sotirov concluded.

In his keynote speechProtecting public spaces – Counter terror preparedness for urban environments”, Alex Townsend-Drake from the Counter Terrorism Preparedness Network (CTPN) noted that all projects, presented at this conference, serve as a reassurance of the benefits of technology for providing security. In his words, pilots are helpful for operationalising the tools created within the projects – the tools need to be stress-tested in a city context.

Panel One, hosted by Meredydd Hughes from SAHER (Europe), was about assessing terrorist threat vectors to public spaces. Following project presentations of CORE, PRECRISIS, DroneWISE, GEMS and GATHERINGS, the panellists discussed the measures that major cities are taking to protect their public spaces now and in the future. Among the themes discussed in the panel, based on experiences shared across the sibling projects, were the radicalisation in the gaming ecosystem as an emerging threat; as well as the importance of crowd control at public gatherings and reducing individual surveillance.

Panel Two was dedicated to AI challenges and priorities for security. Panellists talked about the development and deployment of AI-based security and surveillance applications for the protection of public spaces. Panellists presented experiences from the projects CounteR and ALLIES. Participants concluded that machine learning and deep learning are the most frequently used approaches for security purposes, while EU projects, in general, use Western data – however, if these models are applied in a different context such as the Arab world, there will be a bas with the data used and with the wat the AI is trained. To this end, wider datasets are needed and the hope for the future is for the global community of developers to address this issue.

Panel Three, hosted by EI’s Borislav Mavrov, was about conducting pilot testing of new technologies in public spaces and the best practices for testing and piloting new tools, addressing the legal and ethical aspects. Panellists shared insights from their involvement with projects such as APPRAISE, Safe Stadium and PROTECTOR. They concluded that theoretical accuracy is always higher than production accuracy, after having tested the AI system. In addition, it is necessary to create a definition of mass panic.

In their closing remarks, the experts commented that this conference served as a reassurance of the benefits of technology in gaming, the detection of anomalies, and in densely populated environments. AI also helps in crowd monitoring and management of movement. The participants also highlighted the value of piloting and testing new tools in real-life urban environments and in different legal contexts.

 

This event brought together leading experts, practitioners and partners. We are grateful for their time and dedication. The discussions and the exchange of experiences were of great value for PRECRISIS,” Borislav Mavrov from EI commented.

We are happy that a dozen of solid and diverse array of EU-funded projects were presented at this seminar. Sharing knowledge and experience is extremely valuable for PRECRISIS to better understand how technology integrates into the reality,” PRECRISIS Project Coordinator Andrew Staniforth from SAHER (Europe) commented.

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Second In-Person Consortium Meeting of the PRECRISIS Project
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