General crime and security surveillance
SatCen is involved in providing EU decision makers with geospatial intelligence products on a wide range of topics relevant for general crime and international security issues like border control, terrorism, piracy, illegal cropping or cross-border state disputes.
Cross-border disputes are often present in areas where EU interests are present or the European Union is called to mediate the conflict. Satellite imagery offers a non-intrusive means of treaty monitoring avoiding on-ground dangerous situations. In this context, SatCen is supporting EU’s Instrument for Stability by providing accurate GeoInt on disputed areas.
Wars, insurgency, insecurity or poverty generate uncontrolled displacement along the borders of countries affected by political or economic crises. The exodus of refugees fleeing the conflict areas may influence the political balance between the neighbouring countries and potentially generate new conflicts in regions where the European Union’s interests are present. Besides, many refugees search for shelter in EU countries, especially within the Mediterranean basin. Effective monitoring of cross-border displacements is necessary to avoid security threats to EU countries such as terrorism or drugs/weapons smuggling. Since the majority of the regions where such events occur are of difficult access, remote sensing is a critical tool used to assist the official EU entities. Daily high resolution satellite passes provide a neutral, un-altered view of what is happening on the ground.
Ever since the 9/11 terror attacks, the European Union had to assume an increasing role in the fight against global terrorism. The EU Counter-Terrorism Strategy adopted in 2005 commits the Union to combating terrorism globally, while respecting human rights and allowing its citizens to live in an area of freedom, security and justice. Internationally, this implies assistance to EU citizens in third countries and protection and support to military and civilian assets of EU crisis management operations. Supporting the four pillars of the EU Counter-Terrorism Strategy (Prevent, Protect, Pursue and Respond), EU SatCen provides geospatial analysis of specific aspects of terrorism activity like terrorist training camps or weapons smuggling. Satellite imagery, in conjunction with other spatial data, is also used for the development of spatial models of vulnerability to terrorism threats.
Piracy and coastal analysis
Piracy is a recurring threat to international shipping causing not only economic losses but, more importantly, human casualties. The EU SatCen can provide geospatial intelligence derived from satellite imagery to EU authorities in order to deter, prevent and repress acts of piracy. Remotely sensed data is used not only for off-shore vessel activity but also for the analysis of inland pirate infrastructure (pirate camps) used to back-up piracy operations.
Illicit crop monitoring presents constant challenges for those working on the ground, ranging from simple climatic conditions to changes in cultivation patterns or insecurity. Often drug traffickers and paramilitary forces encourage farmers to grow opium or coca plantations, making the field monitoring rather dangerous. On the other side, multispectral and hyperspectral satellite imagery can distinguish between different kinds of crops. Image processing algorithms are applied on a broad range of the electromagnetic spectrum in order to assess certain crop characteristics like humidity, chlorophyll or leaf area index which in turn can give information on the type of crop being investigated.
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