Background & Motivation
The increasing importance of pan-European passenger and freight transport in terms of financial and societal impact is showcased by the adoption of the EU vision of the Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T), which will connect and enhance trade and tourism among and between European nations, as well as neighboring countries. Such enhanced mobility will intensify border-crossings of citizens and goods, which in turn will generate a significantly increased load on customs and security procedures, calling for smarter, more effective and cost-efficient solutions for border checks.
Human trafficking, irregular crossings and contraband smuggling are major concerns for the EU, which will only intensify with the realisation of the TEN-T vision. Thus, the need for increased security, privacy and protection at EU borders becomes even more critical under such circumstances. As a response to these challenges, the EU has attempted to strengthen technological support and legal harmonisation. A series of measures have been put into place, consisting of an Entry/Exit System and modifications to the Schengen Borders Code in addition to existing border management systems. The EU has attempted to modernise its border management approach by harnessing technologies, such as Automated Border Control systems and biometrics or automatic borders lands surveillances using digital technologies, delivering tools, such as the Passenger Name Records directive (2016), the European Travel Information Authorisation System (ETIAS) system, and others.
The FLEXI-cross (Flexible and Improved Border-Crossing Experience for Passengers and Authorities) project targets the deployment and continuous validation of a toolkit of innovative border checking solutions in real operational environments. These solutions will deliver increased security and reliability of border checks for people and goods which can be enabled by innovative technologies [5G and Internet of Things (IoT), Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML), Big Data and Predictive Analytics, Cloud and Edge Computing and more], aiming at enhancing and improving the border management capabilities.
The resulting flexibility and dynamicity of border check planning will offer novel capabilities such as dynamic deployment of check-points and support via mobile applications for border personnel, while guaranteeing a high level of security, privacy of personal data and protection of people’s fundamental rights. The design and architecture of the implemented solutions will be based on the analysis of the technical and service requirements of the EU border authorities (e.g., Frontex) and will offer seamless integration with existing systems and devices currently utilised by them.