Collaborating with the Community of Users for a safer society

Security and enhancing EU preparedness and resilience are a big concern and priority for the EU. The research and innovation projects funded by the European Commission (EC) through programmes as H2020 contribute to it by producing innovative research outcomes.

COPKIT is proud to be one of the H2020 funded projects within the field of security, under the Security call and, more precisely, working on the Fight against Crime and Terrorism (FTC) area.

Security is a complex field that comprises different sectors and requires effective coordination and interaction between the various stakeholders involved, ranging from policymakers, researchers, industry and practitioners in the EU Member States.

The EU funded research projects, the complexity of security and the need of a coordinated interaction and exchange between stakeholders, are at the origin of the Community of Users, boosted within the EC.

Launched in 2014, the Community of Users on Secure, Safe and Resilient Societies (CoU), has developed into an efficient platform of exchanges among actors of different branches of security and crisis management. To achieve this aim, the CoU has organized a series of workshops in Brussels and more recently online, due to the pandemic crisis, covering the main areas of the Secure Societies Programme with close connection to parent H2020 programmes. These workshops serve as a forum for information exchange and as a means for the improvement of synergies among future research, capacity-building, demonstration and training projects as well as industrial developments.

COPKIT, as one of the projects targeted by the CoU, has participated in the workshops related to its working area, that is, Fight against Crime and Terrorism (FCT) and also in workshops dealing with cross cutting topics as data protection, or Law Enforcement Agencies’ involvement in research projects.

The first of these events was the 13th Meeting of the Community of Users on Secure, Safe and Resilient Societies held in Brussels in March 2019. COPKIT took part in two thematic panels, one on “Law Enforcement needs from digital tools” and the other on “Artificial Intelligence”, with the participation of the Project and Technical coordinators, from Isdefe and Thales Nederland, and with a representative from Guardia Civil, one of the eight Law Enforcement Agencies (LEAs) partners of the project. COPKIT also contributed by providing topics for discussion that were prepared by the different LEA project partners.

In September 2019, COPKIT was present in Brussels again for a new CoU workshop within the thematic group 7, focused on organised crime and more precisely on “Darknet and internet monitoring” and “Investigative tools”.

More recently, in January 2020, COPKIT took part in a workshop on “Research data in Fighting Crime and Terrorism”, attended by the Project and Technical coordinators, the Ethics, Legal and Privacy (ELP) team leader from Trilateral Research and a representative of the Bavarian Police Academy.  The workshop brought together approximately 100 representatives of around 30 on-going projects in the area of FCT, as well as representatives of the European Commission from several units of DG HOME, REA, and DG RTD. Europol and Interpol were also among the participants.

The workshop was aimed at creating a forum for brainstorming on common challenges, exchange best practices, discuss possible solutions which would lead to joint outcomes and concrete actions. The workshop discussions covered legal and ethical aspects of developing and using data-driven policing technologies as well as technical ones.

From the legal and ethical point of view, four main issues were identified related to the research data: data protection and privacy; criminal law; Horizon 2020 rules and trust when it comes to exchanging the data between LEAs and researchers.

From the technical perspective, the main issue shared by all research projects in the FCT field is having good quality and quantity of data to support the research. The problem of having a central repository of data, so that the data are not re-created in each of the projects, was discussed as well. Finally, the issue of having no standard data formats and the consequent problem of reuse of the data between the projects was also raised.

After those face-to-face meetings, due to the pandemic, the following CoU events were held online. In June 2020, COPKIT participated in two new workshops. The aim of the first one on June 16th was to pick up and continue the discussion held in January on “Research data in Fighting Crime and Terrorism” and obtain advice and support on the best ways to tackle ethical and legal issues withing research projects from different EC directorates, namely DG RTD and DG JUST. In preparation for the discussion, COPKIT, as a collaborating project, provided a set of questions prepared by the ELP team and other COPKIT partners.

The second workshop in June 2020 was devoted to “Synergies, complementarities and platforms of the FCT research projects”. This time the COPKIT Technical Coordinator, supported by the Project Coordinator and a member of the COPKIT tech-team from the University of Granada presented the project’s technical solutions and the COPKIT stance about the development and use of platforms. COPKIT presented its approach to focus more on the idea of a “toolkit” of individual components that can be used separately or linked in different possible “chains” that provide different functions to contribute to different solutions required by LEAs, rather than developing a multitude of platforms that it might not be able to integrate with the existing LEA systems.

COPKIT has also been invited to participate in the next CoU FCT workshop on the “Involvement of practitioners in research projects” which will take place at the end of November 2020, with the main goal of giving an opportunity to projects to exchange their best practices and experiences regarding the involvement of practitioners, notably LEAs.

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