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Processing of large, complex and unstructured datasets resulting from criminal investigations, while reconciling big data analysis and data protection
Horizon Europe - Cluster 3 - Destination 1: Better protect the EU and its citizens against Crime and Terrorism
Estimated EU contribution per project
Link to the call
Link to the submission
Projects are expected to contribute to improved capabilities of European Police Authorities and other relevant security practitioners for a fast and flexible analysis of huge amounts of heterogeneous data through the application of robust and advanced tools, allowing them to efficiently fight criminals and terrorists who use novel technologies.
With the constant increase of technological developments, the processing of large datasets is inevitable for police work in today’s digital world. As a wide range of products and services become digitalised and interconnected, Police Authorities need adequate technologies to properly detect and counter emerging threats. Big data analysis also provides invaluable opportunities to carry out investigations, identify suspects, reveal or anticipate crime patterns or links between previously unconnected events or actors. In particular, there is a continuous need for handling large, complex and unstructured datasets, in order to gather, normalise, process, connect, prioritise, visualise the data (including text, image, audio and video) in ways that facilitate the extraction of actionable intelligence, while ensuring interoperability between existing systems and standards in different Member States. Solutions to perform temporal and geospatial analyses are needed too. The successful proposal should have a clear strategy related to quality data sets to be used for training and testing. The innovation efforts should provide support to web-based data analysis that can facilitate e.g. the fight against hate speech, human trafficking, terrorism or child sexual exploitation in an online environment. The work should include surface, deep and dark web.
Examples of relevant techniques include: examination of digitally captured signatures, identification of voice cloning and of deepfakes; detection and recognition of persons/objects/logos; speaker diarisation and identification; speech recognition and transcription into text; automatic classification of text based on risk factors; optical character recognition; named entity recognition; concept extraction, extraction of entities and relations between them in unstructured text; multimodal analytics, in order to discover insights and patterns in large volumes of data through clustering, as well as the identification of user communities and key actors in the social networks being formed online; automatic correlations among all available sources, as well as cross-checking, cross-matching and mapping information between different cases, i.e. cross-reference with existing records in databases of Police Authorities. Identification of perpetrators can also be enhanced by detecting their online behaviour and habits, e.g. which days/hours they are used to login/logout.
Taking advantage of these modern technologies will require Police Authorities to move away from business models based on data input to data evaluation. It will require robust and reliable information management structures that encompass all aspects from data collection to handling, evaluation, exploitation and data security. In particular, key principles such as lawfulness of processing and data minimisation should apply to ensure that Police Authorities conduct data analysis in full compliance with fundamental rights and EU privacy and personal data protection legal framework. For example, it may be necessary to filter and reduce large datasets to what is relevant for operational support activities and in investigations, and/or apply methods such as differential privacy. Hence, all these efforts should also reconcile big data analysis and data protection, i.e.: explore challenges to conduct big data analysis in accordance with data minimisation principles and data protection by default standards, propose possible models and scientific options to tackle the challenge, and develop solutions (digital tools) that meet the challenge, focusing on triage and clustering functions. Possibilities of assessing and preventing bias and discrimination as a result of big data analysis should be analysed too. The successful proposal should thus help framing the issue of big data analysis for Police Authorities, providing guidelines as well as operational tools to comply with EU data protection law.
The successful proposal should build on the publicly available achievements and findings of related previous national or EU-funded projects as well as create synergies with similar on-going security research projects from the Calls 2021-2022 on Fighting Crime and Terrorism in the area of modern information analysis, in order to avoid duplication and to exploit complementarities as well as opportunities for increased impact.
In this topic the integration of the gender dimension (sex and gender analysis) in research and innovation content should be addressed only if relevant in relation to the objectives of the research effort.
Proposals funded under this topic are expected to engage with the Europol Innovation Lab during the lifetime of the project, including validating the outcomes, with the aim of facilitating future uptake of innovations for the law enforcement community.
Possibilities of coordination with related activities funded through the Internal Security Fund (such as the European Anti-Cybercrime Technology Development Association) and the Digital Europe Programme should be analysed too.
Projects’ results are expected to contribute to all of the following outcomes:
- Improved capabilities of European Police Authorities and other relevant security practitioners for a fast and flexible analysis of huge amounts of heterogeneous data through the application of robust and advanced tools, allowing them to efficiently fight criminals and terrorists who use novel technologies;
- Enhanced and modern analysis of heterogeneous data as well as training curricula that take into account legal and ethical rules of operation, cost-benefit considerations, as well as fundamental rights such as privacy and protection of personal data, providing reports that can be used in court;
- The work of European Police Authorities in the area of fighting crime and terrorism is supported by big data analysis that is in accordance with data minimisation principles and high privacy standards, with clearly identified challenges, adequate models and scientifically validated technical options for tackling the challenge proposed and solutions developed that meet the challenge.
Regions / countries for funding
Moldova (Moldova), Albania (Shqipëria), Armenia (Հայաստան), Azerbaijan (Azərbaycan), Belarus (Беларусь), Bosnia and Herzegovina (Bosna i Hercegovina / Босна и Херцеговина), Faeroes (Føroyar / Færøerne), Georgia (საქართველო), Island (Ísland), Israel (ישראל / إِسْرَائِيل), Kosovo (Kosova/Kosovë / Косово), Montenegro (Црна Гора), Morocco (المغرب), North Macedonia (Северна Македонија), Norway (Norge), Serbia (Srbija/Сpбија), Tunisia (تونس /Tūnis), Türkiye, Ukraine (Україна), United Kingdom
Education and training institution, International organization, Non-Profit Organisation (NPO) / Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO), Other, Private institution, incl. private company (private for profit), Public Body (national, regional and local; incl. EGTCs), Research Institution incl. University, Small and medium-sized enterprise (SME)
To be eligible for funding, applicants must be established in one of the following countries:
- the Member States of the European Union, including their outermost regions
- the Overseas Countries and Territories (OCTs) linked to the Member States
- third countries associated to Horizon Europe - see list of particpating countries
Only legal entities forming a consortium are eligible to participate in actions provided that the consortium includes, as beneficiaries, three legal entities independent from each other and each established in a different country as follows:
- 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.
Any legal entity, regardless of its place of establishment, including legal entities from non-associated third countries or international organisations (including international European research organisations) is eligible to participate (whether it is eligible for funding or not), provided that the conditions laid down in the Horizon Europe Regulation have been met, along with any other conditions laid down in the specific call topic.
A ‘legal entity’ means any natural or legal person created and recognised as such under national law, EU law or international law, which has legal personality and which may, acting in its own name, exercise rights and be subject to obligations, or an entity without legal personality.
- Affiliated entities — Affiliated entities (i.e. entities with a legal or capital link to a beneficiary which participate in the action with similar rights and obligations to the beneficiaries, but which do not sign the grant agreement and therefore do not become beneficiaries themselves) are allowed, if they are eligible for participation and funding.
- Associated partners — Associated partners (i.e. entities which participate in the action without signing the grant agreement, and without the right to charge costs or claim contributions) are allowed, subject to any conditions regarding associated partners set out in the specific call conditions.
- Entities without legal personality — Entities which do not have legal personality under their national law may exceptionally participate, provided that their representatives have the capacity to undertake legal obligations on their behalf, and offer guarantees to protect the EU’s financial interests equivalent to those offered by legal persons.
- EU bodies — Legal entities created under EU law including decentralised agencies may be part of the consortium, unless provided for otherwise in their basic act.
- Joint Research Centre (‘JRC’)— Where provided for in the specific call conditions, applicants may include in their proposals the possible contribution of the JRC but the JRC will not participate in the preparation and submission of the proposal. Applicants will indicate the contribution that the JRC could bring to the project based on the scope of the topic text. After the evaluation process, the JRC and the consortium selected for funding may come to an agreement on the specific terms of the participation of the JRC. If an agreement is found, the JRC may accede to the grant agreement as beneficiary requesting zero funding or participate as an associated partner, and would accede to the consortium as a member.
- Associations and interest groupings — Entities composed of members (e.g. European research infrastructure consortia (ERICs)) may participate as ‘sole beneficiaries’ or ‘beneficiaries without legal personality’. However, if the action is in practice implemented by the individual members, those members should also participate (either as beneficiaries or as affiliated entities, otherwise their costs will NOT be eligible.
other eligibility criteria
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 “Information about security practitioners” in the application form with all the requested information, following the template provided in the submission IT tool.
Activities are expected to achieve TRL 7-8 by the end of the project.
For the Technology Readiness Level (TRL), the following definitions apply:
- TRL 1 — Basic principles observed
- TRL 2 — Technology concept formulated
- TRL 3 — Experimental proof of concept
- TRL 4 — Technology validated in a lab
- TRL 5 — Technology validated in a relevant environment (industrially relevant environment in the case of key enabling technologies)
- TRL 6 — Technology demonstrated in a relevant environment (industrially relevant environment in the case of key enabling technologies)
- TRL 7 — System prototype demonstration in an operational environment
- TRL 8 — System complete and qualified
- TRL 9 — Actual system proven in an operational environment (competitive manufacturing in the case of key enabling technologies, or in space)
Relevance for EU Macro-Region
EUSAIR - EU Strategy for the Adriatic and Ionian Region, EUSALP - EU Strategy for the Alpine Space, EUSBSR - EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region, EUSDR - EU Strategy for the Danube Region
UN Sustainable Development Goals (UN-SDGs)
All proposals must be submitted electronically via the Funders & Tenders Portal electronic submission system (accessible via the topic page in the Search Funding & Tenders section). Paper submissions are NOT possible.
Proposals must be complete and contain all parts and mandatory annexes and supporting documents, e.g. plan for the exploitation and dissemination of the results including communication activities, etc.
The application form will have two parts:
- Part A (to be filled in directly online) contains administrative information about the applicant organisations (future coordinator and beneficiaries and affiliated entities), the summarised budget for the proposal and call-specific questions;
- Part B (to be downloaded from the Portal submission system, completed and then assembled and re-uploaded as a PDF in the system) contains the technical description of the project.
Annexes and supporting documents will be directly available in the submission system and must be uploaded as PDF files (or other formats allowed by the system).
The limit for a full application (Part B) is 45 pages.