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A Platform for Monitoring and Prediction of Social Impact and Acceptability of Modern Border Control Technology

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - METICOS (A Platform for Monitoring and Prediction of Social Impact and Acceptability of Modern Border Control Technology)

Reporting period: 2022-03-01 to 2023-10-31

The METICOS consortium has identified the need for "no gate crossing point solutions" in order ‘to allow for the seamless crossing of borders and security checks without the risk of invading people’s privacy, and gain the societal and political acceptance of these technologies, taking into account the human factor, the social and societal aspects, as mentioned in the Work Programme for the Secure societies - Protecting freedom and security of Europe and its citizens call (BES01-2019) providing a secure environment for travel and for host countries.
METICOS aims to introduce Big Data Analysis of border control information systems, in order to provide a step-change towards more modern and efficient Smart Border management and towards gaining societal and political acceptance of modern control technologies of EU borders such as “no gate solutions”. It is therefore positioned as an initiative to create a real-time decision-support system with regard to different Smart Border control technologies that empowers two major stakeholder groups within the European border control sector to ensure user acceptance, secure positive societal impact and maximize border control process efficiency. To this end, the METICOS project has developed a platform that integrates information systems and networks of data sources in order to validate the efficiency and user’s acceptance of border control technologies.
The METICOS scientific and social objectives focus on the development of an IT based platform that correlates collected data from different sources (e.g. social media, websites etc.) in order to validate the technology acceptance, the social acceptance and to enhance the trust to Smart Border solutions by civilians from different cultures. Such platform may be used by border authorities in order to correlate and analyse different data collected for more effective and efficient Border management and to better detect and understand how the EU is perceived in countries abroad and how this may result in a security threat for EU. The project’s goals were accomplished through i) comprehensive and purposive approaches to data analysis that involves the application of methods and approaches drawn from different scientific areas and domains (social and behavioural sciences, gender studies etc.); ii) explanatory capability of the suggested models and iii) applied techniques’ capability of efficient modelling and data processing for coping with problems of high-dimensionality.
The work done in the second period of the project, from M19 (March 2022) to M38 (October 2023) was devoted to the finalisation of the major components of METICOS as listed below:
Technology Acceptance Models (TAM): Study of smart border crossing technologies from a user experience perspective in order to understand and predict acceptance, as a critical step towards ensuring adoption. TAM's role was to receive data from travellers’ and border authorities’ questionnaires (from pan-European survey and METICOS pilots).
Social Sensing Platform (SSP): Social Sensing toolkit received the real time border statistics from big data analytics engine. There is no link currently from embedded tech acceptance prediction module to social sensing toolkit however, Social sensing toolkit expects to generate rules out of the recent questionnaire results of the embedded tech acceptance prediction module.
Big Data Analytics Engine (BDAE): The BDAE module aimed to harmonize data from heterogenous sources and, by using a portfolio of Machine Learning, Deep Learning and Statistical algorithms as well as Data Analytics techniques, to uncover patterns regarding acceptance of Smart Border Control Technologies for both border control staff and travelers and to expose the results of the analysis to end-users through an interactive dashboard platform.
Middleware: is an essential component of the METICOS ecosystem, providing a range of advanced Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) that allow seamless communication between applications. This middleware supported data communication between internal services, user interface components, and database interactions, ensuring secure transmission of critical information in real-time. Its flexibility and adaptability make it suitable for a broad range of applications, making it an indispensable tool in the field of data communication and system integration.
METICOS VR toolkit: It is a crucial component of METICOS, able to simulate the operation of the ABC gates (or any other modern BCP solution) and acceptance from the users in a virtual, simulated environment, avoiding in that way the collection of any personal or biometric information.
In the context of ethics and legal framework, a review of newly introduced legislation or upcoming legislation relevant to the project (e.g. CER directive, Artificial Intelligence Act) has been conducted, and two EAB organised in order to review the status of METICOS ethical requirements.
Regarding the System Integration, interoperability was achieved with the METICOS core components through which it is possible to update the severity level.
Regarding the field demonstrations and testing, preparation activities were done for the planned trials. The activities included testing of interoperability between different Key Results and components as well as logistics and other travel and hosting tasks. During and after the Operational Test and Demo pilots, the Pilot Validation and Demonstration Plan and Validation Scenario and Evaluation Methodology documents were filled.
The communication and dissemination activities during the reporting period were successfully conducted. In the context of WP11, particular effort was made to consolidate the network built through the BES Cluster and prepare for the Final Event. The consolidation of the network requires the sustained participation of the project partners in conferences to promote the results obtained.
Regarding the exploitation activities, a further analysis and addition of METICOS KERs is an important step because this is a continuous activity. In particular, a Joint Exploitation Schema, following a larger grouping mechanism to cover a core and an integrated set of functionalities within the METICOS ecosystem and as a whole part to make the commercial proposition more compelling was discussed.
METICOS brings to the border control operators solutions fitting their needs. Integrating the societal and economic aspects into the research, design, development, and implementation of the proposed solutions, METICOS maximises the returns from EC’s investment in science and technology. METICOS addresses and provides solutions for security investment planning and optimization thanks to an impact assessment model to estimate the economic impact of the implementation to support the exploitation of the outcomes. By detecting possible threats in modern EU border control ecosystem might directly affect the economy of the European countries, METICOS provides an additional layer of protection of European economy and reducing dangers to societal stability. Finally, the consortium closely followed the required legal and ethical requirements compliance especially with those related to the data acquisition and use of AI (e.g. availability of open source and online data, privacy, copyright, terms of service, video surveillance and wearable technologies).
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