Case Studies

SUNNY on borders

by Mark Rowe

A European research project, co-funded by the European Commission has been launched to enhance the effectiveness of border surveillance activities at the external borders. The Smart UNattended airborne sensor Network for detection of vessels used for cross border crime and irregular entrY (SUNNY) project will run for 42 months contributing towards achieving the objectives of the European Border Surveillance System (EUROSUR). The SUNNY project seeks to develop interoperable technical capabilities, in particular for detecting and tracking small vessels used by migrants and drug smugglers.

Rory Doyle, Deputy Research Director at BMT Group and SUNNY Project Co-ordinator says: “The sheer scale and remoteness of some of the border areas (on land and over sea) presents a complex challenge for national authorities. This challenge is intensified due to the insufficient resources that are available to cope with such tasks and achieve the desired levels of effectiveness. By improving sensor and data transmission capacities, as well as real time data processing capabilities, the SUNNY project will help to overcome these challenges.” 

SUNNY will define new tools for collecting real time information in operational scenarios with much of the development work concentrating on on-board processing and communications to improve efficiency and reduce cost. With 18 partners, SUNNY represents a step beyond existing research projects due to the following main features:

A two-tier UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) sensor network will be developed to test both large field and focused surveillance capabilities for a potential future use of UAVs once they are allowed to fly in non-segregated airspace. Novel sensors and on-board processing generation where the focus will be on developing and integrating sensors of low weight, low cost, high resolution that can operate under variable conditions such as darkness, snow, and rain. The exploitation and adaptation of emerging standard wireless technologies and architectures to contribute towards defining European-wide standards. Technologies such as IEEE 802.11a/g/n, IEEE 802.11p, DVB-T2, Mobile WiMAX, LTE, and Wi-Fi@700MHz will be considered due to their low cost and features.

Rory Doyle adds: “Through the SUNNY project we want to not only improve the effectiveness of the current airborne sensors, but provide a more integrated approach to the technologies being used and the communications required.  As such, this will further equip the EU and its Member States with enhanced tools to protect the external borders and prevent cross-border crimes.”

Project partners

The project partners include: BMT Group Ltd; Metasensing B.V.; Xenics; Queen Mary’s College, University of London; Tecnalia; INESC Porto; Technical University of Crete; Ministério da Defesa Nacional (CINAV); Specim, Spectral Imaging Ltd; Alenia Aermacchi S.p.A; TTI Norte, S.L.; Center for Security Studies (KEMEA); Marlo a.s.; Vitrociset S.p.A; NCSR Demokritos; CNIT RaSS; Saab Aktiebolag and ALTUS LSA Commercial & Manufacturing S.A.

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