Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

  • European Commission
  • Programmes
  • Urban security topic 2: Countering the terrorist use of an explosive threat, across the timeline of a plot, including the detection of explosives in a flow

Specific challenge: Extensive research has been undertaken in recent years to enhance support to those involved in detecting and countering explosive threats. This research should propose innovative approaches to develop methods/technologies able to fill existing gaps or greatly improve already existing along the terrorist timeline, including:

 Intelligence techniques to spot those preparing for an attack;

 The inhibition of well-known precursors;

 Detecting specific chemicals, and/or bomb factories and/or the Improvised Explosive Device (IED) in transit, and in particular in a flow of vehicles / people;

 Neutralizing the IED and undertaking forensic and evidential work.


Furthermore, a substantial amount of research and development has been carried out for other purposes, that could be applied to efforts to counter IEDs and Home-Made Explosives (HMEs). For instance, federated sensors are being developed to detect air/water pollution in sewages, streets and buildings.

But up to now, no comprehensive research was undertaken to assess the effectiveness, the efficiency and the cost of all the developed methods/techniques (including those initially designed for a different purpose). Detecting an explosive threat inside a flow of vehicles or passengers (including carried bags) also remains a major challenge at the present day.


Scope: Proposals should address the full time line of a terrorist explosive plot. At each period of the time line, the project should assess the effectiveness of the supporting method/technology used to counter the threat at that period using credible scenarios based on real cases, including the evaluation of the most effective integration and association of existing technologies along the timeline.

Scenarios should take into account the type of explosive (e.g. home-made, conventional) and the means of transit and deployment (e.g. person-borne, vehicle-borne, left baggage), as both of these factors will have an influence on how effective a given combination of methods/technologies will be.

On detection in transit, projects should focus on the optimal combination of several existing technologies, for example spectroscopic stand-off detection; active/passive imaging for hidden objects detection; dogs (or other animals); automated CCTV tracking; multi-sensor data treatment. It should also cover the best way to locate sensors, taking into account realistic operational conditions and past event scenarios. In addition, technologies should be identified to fill detection gaps, such as e.g. bio-inspired technologies, stand-off-eye-safe spectroscopy, tomography, radar imaging, polarimetry etc.

In addition, the proposal should identify the weakness of the current defences on IED and the best candidates to make them better.

The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU of between €3m and €5m would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.


Expected impact:

- Better understanding of the effectiveness of the supporting method/technology used to counter the terrorist use of an explosive threat.

- Allowing those involved in counter-terrorist activities (e.g. Law Enforcement Agencies, bomb disposal units, Security & Intelligence Agencies, and Government Laboratories) to make proper choices in the application of new tools and technologies.

- Better understanding of the combination of technologies required to detect and locate an explosive threat inside a flow, providing security and police forces with enough information so that they are able to take quick and effective decisions.

- Contribution to a considerable improvement in the field of public security.


Type of action: Research & Innovation Actions


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