Commission starts testing interoperability for contact tracing apps

To exploit fully the potential of mobile proximity contact tracing and warning apps to break the chain of coronavirus infections and save lives, the Commission is setting up an interoperability gateway service linking national apps across the EU. On September 14, an important milestone has been reached as a group of Member States started testing the infrastructure. The Commission has kicked off test runs between the backend servers of the official apps from the Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, Ireland, Italy and Latvia, and a newly established gateway server.

On May 7, PSCE delivered a webinar focused on this topic, where it explored the potential that mobile apps have to enhance contact tracing strategies to contain and reverse the spread of COVID-19. The virtual event featured Mr Peter Eberl Deputy Head of Cybersecurity and Digital Privacy Unit in DG CNECT, who delivered an introduction on the EU guidance.

Thierry Breton, Commissioner for Single Market, said: “Many Member States have implemented national contact tracing and warning applications. It is now time to make them interact with each other. Travel and personal exchange are the core of the European project and the Single Market. The gateway will facilitate this in these times of pandemic and will save lives.”

EU countries test their ability to cooperate in the event of cyber attacks

On September 29, EU Member States, the EU Agency for Cybersecurity (ENISA) and the European Commission (EC) met to test and assess their capacity to respond to a cybersecurity crisis. 

Known as Blue OLEx 2020, the exercise, the second of its kind, was organised by the Netherlands, with ENISA’s support, as a key stepping stone towards a finalised set of standardised operating procedures (SOPs). The procedures are being developed within the framework of the NIS Cooperation Group, led by France and Italy. The intention is to achieve a more coordinated information-sharing and incident response mechanism among EU cybersecurity authorities. The NIS Cooperation Group was established under the 2016 Directive on security of network and information systems — the NIS Directive. 

CyCLONe, the cooperation network

On September 29, EU countries, with the support of ENISA, launched the Cyber Crisis Liaison Organisation Network (CyCLONe) to help ensure a coordinated response should disruptive cyber incidents occur. Overall, the CyCLONe addresses the need for strengthened cooperation during major cyber-related crises. These measures include common situation awareness, coordinated responses plus public information.

Juhan Lepassaar, Executive Director of ENISA, summed up the overall approach: “Cyber crises have no borders. The EU Agency for Cybersecurity is committed to support the Union in its response to cyber incidents. It is important that the national cybersecurity agencies come together to coordinate decision-making at all levels. The CyCLONe group addresses this missing link.” 

“The new Cyber Crisis Liaison Organisation Network indicates once again the excellent cooperation between Member States and EU institutions in ensuring that our networks and critical systems are cyber secure,” Thierry Breton, Commissioner for the Internal Market, stated. He noted that cybersecurity is a shared responsibility that requires “we work collectively in preparing and implementing rapid emergency response plans.” 

The CyCLONe Network will ensure that information flows more efficiently between different cybersecurity structures enabling Member States to better coordinate national response strategies and impact assessments. Yesterday’s exercise was a follow-up to the Commission’s recommendation in its “Coordinated Response to Large Scale Cybersecurity Incidents and Crises”, the blueprint adopted in 2017. 

The EU Cybersecurity Act

On 27 June 2019, the EU Cybersecurity Act entered into force, revamping and strengthening ENISA’s role. This set the cybersecurity agency on a new course, giving it a permanent mandate along with increased responsibilities and resources. A key outcome of this was the European cybersecurity certification framework, which established the governance and rules for EU-wide certification of ICT products, processes and services.

State of the union 2020

On September 16th 2020, European Commission Ursula Von Leyen presented the commission’s vision for the future. Under the “NextGenerationEU” program, she emphasised the necessity from Europe to become increasingly green, digital and resilient.  The discourse insisted on the complexity of the current situation caused by the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, which Ms Van Der Leyen states “is not over. And the recovery is still in its early stage.” 

Amongst the initial points raised, it is stated that the EU needs to strengthen its crisis preparedness and management of cross-border health threats. Security was high on the agenda and protecting the lives and livelihoods of European citizens is perceived as a key priority.

Furthermore, Ms Von Der Leyen insisted on the necessity to shift to a greener Europe. Concretely, this means that 37% of the overall 750 Billion€ NextGenerationEU budget would be allocated to reaching Green Deal objectives. By 2030 the EU pledges to reduce its emissions by 55% and become the first climate-neutral continent by 2050.

In addition, was emphasised the need for a common plan for digital Europe with clearly defined goals for 2030, such as for connectivity, skills and digital public services. These developements should be based on clear principles: the right to privacy and connectivity, freedom of speech, free flow of data and cybersecurity.

The discourse also mentioned the establishment of common data spaces - for example, in the energy or healthcare sectors. This will support innovation ecosystems in which universities, companies and researchers can access and collaborate on data. This will take form as a European Data cloud which will be created.

Finally, the discourse emphasised the importance of investing in new technologies, namely Artificial Intelligence. It was noted that this progress should be based on clear regulations regarding how AI data is collected, processed and stored.

 The full "State of the Union 2020" document is available here.

Webinar: "Empowering Vertical Industries through 5G Networks – The 5G PPP experience"

On September the 9th, from 11:00 – 11:30 CET, the 5G Public Private Partnership (5G PPP) and the 5G Infrastructure Association (5G IA) will co-organize a webinar to present the key findings of the latest White Paper on “Empowering Vertical Industries through 5G Networks – Current Status and Future Trends”. The webinar will feature Mr. Bernard Barani, Deputy Head of Unit at DG CONNECT, European Commission, as well as different voices within the telecommunications industry - NOKIA, Telecom Italia, Telenor. PSCE is pleased to have contributed to the White Paper, under “Indicative Use Cases for the Vertical Sectors” with regards to Public Safety.

Within the 2025-30 timeframe, European countries will begin to deploy mission critical mobile broadband technology, allowing for greater capacity for information exchange, improved situational awareness and especially enabling improved cross border collaboration. Approximately 3.5 million first responders in Europe will be presented with new secure and reliable broadband devices that they can carry and use anywhere in Europe. The lower cost of this new technology compared to existing and costly narrowband technologies is expected to increase this volume 2-3-fold, also allowing additional supporting staff to join these mission critical mobile networks.

Read the full White Paper here:

Agenda and Registration for the Webinar on September 9th:

Kick-off of the Search & Rescue Project

Emerging technologies for the Early location of Entrapped victims under Collapsed Structures and Advanced Wearables for risk assessment and First Responders Safety in SAR operations

The Kick-Off of the H2020 Search & Rescue (S&R) project officially took place on 21-22 July 2020. The meeting, which took place remotely and gathered 85 registered participants from 28 organisations across Europe, gave S&R partners the opportunity to meet and present their work plan for the initial phase of the project.

About Search & Rescue

Both man-made and natural disasters such as earthquakes and terrorist attacks can result in people being trapped under debris and collapsed structures. In these critical situations, a timely and effective response is crucial and can prevent or significantly reduce the risk of casualties. This is why First responders and rescue teams need to be equipped with cutting edge tools and specialised instrumentations in order to enhance their capabilities, namely in terms of accuracy, quick localization, and reduction of false alarms.

The S&R project will design, implement and test through a series of large scale pilot scenarios a highly interoperable open architecture platform for first responders enhancing their decision making and providing a dynamic common operational picture of the crisis. The S&R platform will allow to easily incorporate next generation solutions and equipment and can be split into the following categories:

Front-End equipment systems and collection tools, which are mainly based on technologies employed in the crisis scenarios in order to acquire relevant and sensible information in real time (e.g. sensors, drones, rescue robots, smart glasses smart uniforms, first aid for kids’ device characterized by the usage of innovative textile materials, first aid devices, and masks).
Data Fusion and Mediation Systems, which will fuse the information coming from those heterogeneous sources and will provide a more detailed and accurate situational\context awareness to the decision makers and to the command centres.
Back-End applications, services and portals, which will provide decision support capabilities to crisis stakeholders. The platform will be equipped with heterogeneous autonomous assets and sensors that provide various sources of data, indoor positioning and extensions of communications efficiently by employing swarming behaviours.

Stay tuned and follow the development of this ambitious project!

This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 882897