Abandoned cars at the Syria-Turkey Border Captured by WorldView-2 | 22 October 2014

Shortfalls in personnel and equipment can be eased by utilising the most efficient remote monitoring methods.

Europe faces intense migratory pressure and the European Commission recognises that it is unlikely to ease, even in the long term. In fact, there is every chance the situation will get worse – there is no resolution in sight for many protracted conflicts in Africa and the Middle East, and the threat of climate change induced-displacement is growing. Affected populations might have decades in which to plan their retreat from rising sea levels, or just hours to flee a natural disaster, and the EU must be prepared for either situation.

Abandoned cars at the Syria-Turkey Border | Captured by WorldView-2 | 22 October 2014
Abandoned cars at the Syria-Turkey Border | Captured by WorldView-2 | 22 October 2014

We have emerged from the challenge of the 2015 migration wave having learnt some hard lessons. And now it’s time to move on from crisis mode, and the associated inefficiencies, to prepare our institutions for properly managing future human movements.

Currently there are persistent and significant gaps in the personnel and equipment available to the agencies mandated with managing the EU’s external borders – to the point that the European Commission believes they must be doubled in order to meet their current operational needs.

It is no surprise really. The external borders of the EU are vast and complicated. They traverse oceans, mountains, and rivers. But boats, trucks, and personnel will always leave gaps, and effective management requires the ability to monitor and react to action at any geographical location, which is why the the European Border Surveillance System (EUROSUR) was created.

Ten inflatable boats on the Libyan coast, suspected of being used by people smugglers | Captured by WorldView-3 | 11 June 2017
Ten inflatable boats on the Libyan coast, suspected of being used by people smugglers | Captured by WorldView-3 | 11 June 2017

“EUROSUR fuses different streams of data in order to visualise the situation along the border, even where there are no resources on the ground,” says Dr. Melanie Rankl, Account Manager at European Space Imaging. “The aim is to prevent crime, irregular migration, and protect the lives of migrants.”

“Very high resolution optical satellite imagery is an especially powerful data stream for EUROSUR because relatively small objects such as cars and boats can be clearly identified. The satellites have the capacity to image even the most remote areas in near realtime – enabling the prompt gathering of new information and the verification of other intelligence sources.”

Particularly in emergency situations, satellite data can prove to be very valuable information.

– Sónia Antunes, European Maritime Safety Agency

Satellite monitoring delivers cost-effective insights that enable resources to be deployed to the areas where they are most needed, maximizing operational efficiency.

Compared to imagery from planes or drones, satellites offer logistical simplicity by cutting out the need for permits, air traffic control, equipment, and pilots. This is especially important when the area of the interest is in a crisis or conflict zone.

European Space Imaging has been reliably supplying very high resolution satellite imagery to EU earth observation programmes such as the Integrated Maritime Services (IMS) and COPERNICUS for over a decade, and is proud to offer a service that helps keep our borders secure and our citizens safe, all while protecting the lives of vulnerable people.

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