21 November 2016

FOI demonstrates new technology for surveillance of societal functions

In the P5 project, researchers have developed a system that can detect threats of sabotage and terrorism against our critical societal infrastructure, such as nuclear power stations.

During a technology and research demonstration at the Centre for Teaching and Research in Disaster Medicine and Traumatology, in Linköping, the results of the work of the EU project, P5, were displayed, on 5 October. The basis of the project is to provide early warning of threats against critical buildings. This means it is important to detect indications that a crime is being planned at the earliest possible stage, so that it can be stopped before it happens.

“Effective surveillance has been central to the project. To a large extent, this has meant being able to detect danger automatically, with the help of algorithms,” relates FOI’s David Lindgren, who is project coordinator.

The system, which has an autonomous capability for both detecting and following potential saboteurs, was displayed during the demonstration.

“At first, you don’t know whether it’s a berry-picker or a terrorist. The system detects people and follows their coordinates. Then it analyses the situation and tries to find indicative movement patterns that can suggest whether something criminal is underway,” says David Lindgren.

The Oskarshamn nuclear plant has been one of the project’s important stakeholders. A worst-case scenario of an attack on a nuclear power plant is one where radioactive contamination occurs. At the same time as the plant would of course want to dispatch guards in time, it would also want to be able to shut down immediately and evacuate the area – a process that can take ten minutes. Every second counts. Detecting threats at long distances requires the ability to monitor large land areas and the surrounding airspace, as well as adjacent waters.

An important part of the project is the question of how to implement this kind of surveillance without infringing on privacy rights and the integrity of individuals.

“Experts in ethics and law have been part of the project. We have different filters in the system for removing sensitive information. The proposal is that if one needs to inspect data later, then permission must be sought from a prosecutor,” explains David Lindgren.


It is becoming ever more important that we are able to detect and react quickly to threats of sabotage and terrorism against our critical societal infrastructure, such as power stations. FOI has led the P5 project (a three-year EU FP7 project with nine European partners), which has undertaken research in perimeter surveillance that is assisted by advanced sensor and data fusion technology.

Read more about the project here External link, opens in new window..