> our title:

EU Looks to Drones for Border Surveillance

> original title:

Frontex Chief Looks Beyond EU Borders (excerpt)

(Source: EU Observer; published Jan. 14 2012)

BRUSSELS --- Frontex, the pan-European border agency based in Warsaw, is mandated to co-ordinate member state border police patrols on Europe's external frontiers.

But its executive director, Ilkka Laitinen, told EUobserver that the agency is looking to expand its surveillance operations beyond the EU to develop a so-called common pre-frontier intelligence picture (CPIP).

"This is where Frontex is due to arrange the delivery and the production of additional surveillance data from an area that is beyond the border, typically we are talking about international borders or some further areas," said Laitinen.

Laitinen said traditional surveillance methods rely on patrols and manned-aircraft.

Much more cost-effective, he said, are unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) that could be deployed at sea to locate, for instance, migrants in distress.

"There are many legal questions to be solved. But technologically speaking, it [UAV] seems to be a reliable and cost-effective means for surveillance among others," he said.

Laitinen said the data gathered for the CPIPs could come from a variety of sources, including "traditional means if they are legible or by some UAVs or satellite images and so on."

Frontex is mandated to help steer the research and development of surveillance technologies and indirectly works with the industry through consortiums. (end of excerpt)

Click here for the full story, on the EU Observer website.