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Call: Improved access to fighting crime and terrorism research data

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Programme
Acronym HE-CL3-FCT
Type of Fund Direct Management
Description of programme
"Horizon Europe - Cluster 3 - Destination 1: Better protect the EU and its citizens against Crime and Terrorism"

One of the main purposes of this Destination is to contribute significantly to the implementation of the Security Union Strategy [[COM(2020) 605 final.]], i.e. to include Research and Innovation as one of the key building blocks enabling the achievement of the overall policy objectives. As such, the topics in this Destination aim at fully addressing all the key issues underlined in the Strategy. In addition, this Destination touches upon the Counter-Terrorism Agenda [[COM(2020) 795 final.]] as well as the security dimension of the New Pact on Migration and Asylum [[COM(2020) 609 final.]], notably the issues related to criminal networks. More specifically, this Destination includes research topics aiming at fighting crime and terrorism more effectively, particularly through better prevention of crime and enhanced investigation capabilities concerning both traditional crime and cybercrime, as well as at better protection of citizens from violent attacks in public spaces, through more effective prevention, preparedness and response while preserving the open nature of such spaces. This Destination will develop the knowledge and technologies to be taken up by the Internal Security Fund, as a complementary instrument that will enable exploitation of research results and final delivery of the required tools to security practitioners.

The goal of this Destination is to bring improved prevention, investigation and mitigation of impacts of crime, including of new/emerging criminal modi operandi (such as those exploiting digitisation and other technologies). Such an approach needs to be based on a deeper knowledge of human and social aspects of relevant societal challenges, such as child sexual exploitation, violent radicalisation, trafficking of human beings, disinformation and fake news, corruption and cyber criminality, including support to victims. Research can further help to transpose such knowledge into the operational activities of Police Authorities [[In the context of this Destination, ‘Police Authorities’ means public authorities explicitly designated by national law, or other entities legally mandated by the competent national authority, for the prevention, detection and/or investigation of terrorist offences or other criminal offences, specifically excluding police academies, forensic institutes, training facilities as well as border and customs authorities.]], as well as civil society organisations.

Research and innovation will support Police Authorities and, when applicable, other relevant end-users in better tackling crime, including cybercrime, and terrorism as well as different forms of serious and organised crime (such as smuggling, money laundering, identity theft, counterfeiting of products, trafficking of illicit drugs and of falsified/substandard medicines, environmental crime or illicit trafficking of cultural goods) by developing new technologies, tools and systems (including digital tools, e.g. artificial intelligence, interoperability solutions, etc.). This support refers especially to capabilities to analyse in near-real-time large volumes of data to forestall criminal activities, or to combat disinformation and fake news with implications for security.

In addition to improved knowledge, preparedness, prevention and response, projects within this Destination will deliver operational tools for enhanced criminal investigation capabilities for Police Authorities and, when applicable, other relevant end-users. Thus, this Destination covers a broad range of activities from forensics, big data management to the investigation of cybercriminal activities, improved cross-border cooperation and exchange of evidence.

With regards to CBRN-E (chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and explosives) threats, research and innovation within this Destination allows, among others, to generate knowledge for counter-terrorism on the continuously evolving methods related to dangerous chemicals, contaminants and unknown substances, and the development of technologies to counter and respond to related incidents.

Furthermore, this Destination aims at improved security of public spaces and public safety, while at the same time preserving the open nature of urban public spaces. All measures to be explored by research and innovation in this area should ensure that citizens can continue their daily lives without major intrusions. To achieve higher security for public space, research in this Destination will identify concepts for prevention, preparedness and response of urban actors (city authorities, Police Authorities, public/private service providers, first responders and citizens) in response to threats of terrorist attacks in public spaces. Innovations can be used to design/improve public spaces to be more secure, also with the help of advanced vulnerability assessments. They can increase the capacity to protect spaces against attacks with manned or unmanned vehicles and can help to detect firearms and other weapons, as well as CBRN-E materials being brought into public spaces. In case attacks cannot be prevented, enhanced effectiveness of mitigation measures including through strategies to reduce vulnerability and strengthening the resilience of possible targets have the potential to reduce the potential impacts of such attacks. Advanced data analysis in real time can critically reduce the time-to-react for first responders.

This Destination will also promote, whenever appropriate and applicable, the proposals with:

  • the involvement of the Police Authorities in their core,
  • a clear strategy on how they will adapt to the fast-evolving environment in the area of fight against crime and terrorism (evolution of related technologies, evolution of criminal modi operandi and business models related to these technologies, etc.),
  • a minimum-needed platform, i.e. tools that are modular and can be easily plugged into another platform (in order to avoid platform multiplication),
  • tools that are developed and validated against practitioners’ needs and requirements,
  • a robust plan on how they will build on the relevant predecessor projects,
  • the (active) involvement of citizens, voluntary organisations and communities,
  • education and training aspects, especially for Police Authorities and other relevant practitioners, as well as information sharing and awareness raising of the citizens,
  • a clear strategy on the uptake of the outcomes, defined in consultation with the involved stakeholders,
  • a well-developed plan both on how research data for training and testing will be obtained, in order to reach the requested Technology Readiness Levels (TRLs), and on how the specific TRL will be measured.

The Destination will also create opportunities for collaboration on research and innovation among different communities of practitioners operating in the area of fighting crime and terrorism, such as Police Authorities, border and coast guard authorities, and customs authorities. International cooperation is also encouraged where appropriate and relevant.

Expected impacts:

Proposals for topics under this Destination should set out a credible pathway to contributing to the following expected impact of the Horizon Europe Strategic Plan 2021-2024: “Crime and terrorism are more effectively tackled, while respecting fundamental rights, […] thanks to more powerful prevention, preparedness and response, a better understanding of related human, societal and technological aspects, and the development of cutting-edge capabilities for police authorities […] including measures against cybercrime.”

More specifically, proposals should contribute to the achievement of one or more of the following impacts:

  • Modern information analysis for Police Authorities, allowing them to efficiently fight criminals and terrorists who use novel technologies;
  • Improved forensics and lawful evidence collection, increasing the capabilities to apprehend criminals and terrorists and bring them to the court;
  • Enhanced prevention, detection and deterrence of societal issues related to various forms of crime, including cybercrime, and terrorism, such as violent radicalisation, domestic and sexual violence, or juvenile offenders;
  • Increased security of citizens against terrorism, including in public spaces (while preserving their quality and openness);
  • Improved intelligence picture and enhanced prevention, detection and deterrence of various forms of organised crime;
  • More secure cyberspace for citizens, especially children, through a robust prevention, detection, and protection from cybercriminal activities.

Furthermore, in order to accomplish the objectives of this Destination, additional eligibility conditions have been defined. They refer to the active involvement of relevant security practitioners or end-users.

Proposals involving earth observation are encouraged to primarily make use of Copernicus data, services and technologies.

Projects funded under this Destination are invited to closely cooperate with other EC-chaired or funded initiatives in the relevant domains, such as the Networks of Practitioners projects funded under H2020 Secure Societies work programmes, the Knowledge Networks for Security Research & Innovation funded under the Horizon Europe Cluster 3 Work Programme (”Strengthened Security Research and Innovation” Destination), or the Community of Users for Secure, Safe and Resilient Societies (future CERIS –Community of European Research and Innovation for Security).

Link Link to Programme
Call
Improved access to fighting crime and terrorism research data
Description of call
"Improved access to fighting crime and terrorism research data"

Expected Outcome:

Projects’ results are expected to contribute to all of the following outcomes:

  • The relevant community (researchers, practitioners, industry, policy makers) is made aware of the legal, ethical and technical pre-requisites that a European common research training and testing data repository in the area of fighting crime and terrorism should fulfil (e.g., by defining how it should be organised or which characteristics it should have), which would include latest technology developments and allow for adaptations as technologies progress, while taking into account ethical rules of operation and fundamental rights (including privacy and data protection) as well as cost-benefit considerations that have to be made in the context of proportionality in strict sense (as a step to assess the lawfulness of a measure interfering with the fundamental rights);
  • The corresponding technical, legal and ethical basis for such a training and testing fighting crime and terrorism research data repository is set, that would allow for its creation in a subsequent step;
  • Security practitioners are provided with an increased interoperability and improved (cross-border) exchange of data thanks to harmonised data file formats across Europe, which would easily take into account technological evolutions, i.e. be adaptable in time;
  • Improved anonymisation and pseudonymisation technologies, including other security measures, such as masking and unmasking technologies to facilitate data management in this context, ensuring full access to the data actually needed (in line with the necessity and proportionality principle), as well as taking into account all applicable legislation and fundamental rights.

Scope:

The lack of realistic, up-to-date and sufficient training and testing data for research purposes has been regularly raised by the projects working in the area of fighting crime and terrorism (FCT), to the extent that such data are necessary instead of dummy and synthetic data. Namely, the accuracy of tools, notably (but not only) digital ones, depends heavily on the quantity and on the quality of the training and testing data, including the quality of their structure and labelling, and how well these data represent the problem to be tackled.

This issue is generally present in any research area, but it gets more emphasised in the, e.g., security, health or defence domain due to the special categories of data involved and the sensitivity of the domain, which calls for additional requirements to access to real datasets or the creation of representative datasets at a national level.

In EU-funded projects, in the area of FCT, the problem of having a scientifically satisfactory amount of up-to-date high-quality and realistic data needed to develop reliable (digital and non-digital - e.g., detection and/or qualification of explosives, drugs, DNA traces) tools in support of Police Authorities becomes even more complex. Namely, training and testing data sets considered legal and used in one Member State have to be shared and accepted in other Member States, while simultaneously observing fundamental rights and substantial or procedural safeguards.

In addition, with continuous and fast technological improvements, including but not limited to the Internet of Things, new data formats and mechanisms for data transfer, storage and security are and will be developed. In addition, data formats are often not harmonised amongst similar research projects, thus hampering potential interoperability requirements.

Another problem that is often encountered is a lack of trust between researchers and practitioners/end-users, as well as between different projects when it comes to data sharing. To this end, it is important to break down barriers between projects and keep on passing the message that the projects should not be competing to outperform each other, but working together to provide the EU with the best possible solutions. As a pre-requisite for all the above, there is a need to have a common research data repository.

The aim of this topic is to tackle this multi-layered issue and set the basis for such a common data repository by creating a roadmap consisting of a clear set of rules, conditions and characteristics that such a repository should have, be it the variety of the data in function of the type and of the problem at hand, legal issues, avoidance of any bias, accessibility levels related to the sensitivity of various data sets, harmonisation of data formats, solutions for annotation as well as for the aging of the data, etc.

As an integral part of proposed activities, apart from the above sets of requirements, technical solutions should be developed that could help research activities comply with privacy and data protection requirements when handling data, while being able to extract information if needed. Namely, as learnt from the previous research activities, standard pseudonymisation and anonymisation methods are not satisfactory in this domain, as they, e.g., either break the links between different pieces of evidence or take a lot of time and effort. Thus, new and/or improved anonymisation and pseudonymisation technologies, including other security measures, such as masking and unmasking technologies, should be developed to facilitate data management ensuring full access to the data actually needed (in line with the necessity and proportionality principle), in full respect of fundamental rights and applicable legislation.

Although proposed activities should focus on the research data for fighting crime and terrorism within the remits of Horizon Europe regulation (including ethics), proposals should take into account the possible application of the identified solutions in different security research domains, such as infrastructure resilience, border management or disaster resilience.

Coordination with the successful proposals from topic SU-AI02-2020 (on AI research datasets) and future successful proposals in HORIZON-CL3-FCT-2021-01-01 (on travel intelligence training and testing data for research purposes as well as on pseudonymisation techniques), HORIZON-CL3-FCT-2022-01-05 and HORIZON-CL3-FCT-2022-01-01 (on ground-truth data sets for conventional forensics) as well as HORIZON-CL3-FCT-2022-01-02 (on common data formats) should be envisaged so as to avoid duplication and to exploit complementarities as well as opportunities for increased impact. Possibilities of coordination with related activities in the Digital Europe Programme or European Open Science Cloud should be analysed too.

In this topic the integration of the gender dimension (sex and gender analysis) in research and innovation content is not a mandatory requirement.

Link Link to Call
Thematic Focus Research & Innovation, Technology Transfer & Exchange, Capacity Building, Cooperation Networks, Institutional Cooperation, Clustering, Development Cooperation, Economic Cooperation, Digitisation, ICT, Telecommunication, Administration & Governance, Health, Social Affairs, Sports, Equal Rights, Human Rights, People with Disabilities, Social Inclusion, Children & Youth, Education & Training, Justice, Safety & Security
Funding area EU Member States
Overseas Countries and Territories (OCTs)
Origin of Applicant EU Member States
Overseas Countries and Territories (OCTs)
Eligible applicants Research Institution, International Organization, Small and Medium Sized Enterprises, SMEs (between 10 and 249 employees), Microenterprises (fewer than 10 employees), NGO / NPO, Public Services, Other, Start Up Company, University, Enterprise (more than 250 employees or not defined), Education and Training Centres, Lobby Group / Professional Association / Trade Union, Association, Federal State / Region / City / Municipality / Local Authority, National Government
Applicant details

eligible non-EU countries:

  • countries associated to Horizon Europe
At the date of the publication of the work programme, there are no countries associated to Horizon Europe. Considering the Union’s interest to retain, in principle, relations with the countries associated to Horizon 2020, most third countries associated to Horizon 2020 are expected to be associated to Horizon Europe with an intention to secure uninterrupted continuity between Horizon 2020 and Horizon Europe. In addition, other third countries can also become associated to Horizon Europe during the programme. For the purposes of the eligibility conditions, applicants established in Horizon 2020 Associated Countries or in other third countries negotiating association to Horizon Europe will be treated as entities established in an Associated Country, if the Horizon Europe association agreement with the third country concerned applies at the time of signature of the grant agreement.

  • low-and middle-income countries

Legal entities which are established in countries not listed above will be eligible for funding if provided for in the specific call conditions, or if their participation is considered essential for implementing the action by the granting authority.

Specific cases:

  • Affiliated entities - Affiliated entities are eligible for funding if they are established in one of the countries listed above.
  • EU bodies - Legal entities created under EU law may also be eligible to receive funding, unless their basic act states otherwise.
  • International organisations - International European research organisations are eligible to receive funding. Unless their participation is considered essential for implementing the action by the granting authority, other international organisations are not eligible to receive funding. International organisations with headquarters in a Member State or Associated Country are eligible to receive funding for ‘Training and mobility’actions and when provided for in the specific call conditions.
Project Partner Yes
Project Partner Details

Unless otherwise provided for in the specific call conditions , legal entities forming a consortium are eligible to participate in actions provided that the consortium includes:

  • at least one independent legal entity established in a Member State;and
  • at least two other independent legal entities, each established in different Member States or Associated Countries.
Call opens 30.06.2021
Call closes 23.11.2021
Further info

Proposal page limits and layout:

The application form will have two parts:

  • Part A to be filled in directly online  (administrative information, summarised budget, call-specific questions, etc.)
  • Part B to be downloaded from the Portal submission system, completed and re-uploaded as a PDF in the system

Page limit - Part B: 45 pages

Type of Funding Grants
Financial details
Expected EU contribution per projectThe Commission estimates that an EU contribution of around EUR 7.00 million would allow these outcomes to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of a proposal requesting different amounts.
Indicative budgetThe total indicative budget for the topic is EUR 16.00 million.
Typ of ActionInnovation Actions (IA)
Funding rate70% (except for non-profit legal entities, where a rate of up to 100% applies)

This topic requires the active involvement, as beneficiaries, of at least 3 Police Authorities from at least 3 different EU Member States or Associated countries. For these participants, applicants must fill in the table “Eligibility information about practitioners” in the application form with all the requested information, following the template provided in the submission IT tool.

Some activities, resulting from this topic, may involve using classified background and/or producing of security sensitive results (EUCI and SEN). Please refer to the related provisions in section B Security — EU classified and sensitive information of the General Annexes.

Activities are expected to achieve TRL 7-8 by the end of the project.

To ensure a balanced portfolio, grants will be awarded to applications not only in order of ranking but at least also to those that are the highest ranked within set topics, provided that the applications attain all thresholds.
Submission Proposals must be submitted electronically via the Funding & Tenders Portal Electronic Submission System. Paper submissions are NOTpossible.

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