G-NEXT aims to support the transition of the Copernicus services for Security applications from research and development and pre-operational service provision to a fully operational mode.
In particular, G-NEXT will supply information and intelligence data to support the operations of the European External Action Service (EEAS), including mapping and geoinformation products ready for use in emergency and crisis situations. Users should be able to integrate the services provided by G-NEXT into their working environments in an effective and reliable manner.
G-NEXT will build on the capacities and service components developed within the G-MOSAIC project, and will focus on the potential application areas identified by EU and Member States representatives. The project will further enhance the geo-spatial crisis management services in both rush (event-driven response) and non-rush (periodic or non-event-driven) modes by addressing the gap between research-based and operational services in the programmatic context of Copernicus services for Security applications.
The goals of G-NEXT can be summarised as follows
- Demonstrate the benefits of integrating Earth Observation (EO) products with in situ data and intelligence in response to the needs identified by Security stakeholders;
- Collect user feedback, measuring the adequacy of the services and products in relation to the future operational phase;
- Ensure the continuity of the work performed in previous GMES projects;
- Implement synergies with future Copernicus projects and initiatives;
- Perform a comprehensive cost-benefit analysis of the future services;
- Address the potential service evolution from 2014 onwards.
The main actors and stakeholders involved in missions and operations in support of EU External Action form the reference user base for the G-NEXT services. It includes the European External Action Service, national institutions such as Ministries of Defence and Foreign Affairs, Law Enforcement entities, Intelligence Centres and international institutions such as United Nations bodies.
The G-NEXT project addresses the following services:
- Road Network Status Assessment
- Conflict Damage Assessment
- Critical Infrastructure Analysis
- Reference Map
- Support to Evacuation Plan
- Crisis Situation Map
- Border Map
- Camp Analysis
- Camp Monitoring Analysis
- Activity Report
The services are divided into three main application domains: 'Political or armed conflicts', 'Situational Awareness', and 'Border Survey'.
Consideration of ethical issues in the G-NEXT project
‘Ethics might seem a very abstract concept, but, confronted with reality, ethics becomes the challenge to do what ought to be done’ .
This quote from the European Commission’s report 'Ethics for Researchers. Facilitating Research Excellence in FP7' is at the heart of the efforts of the G-NEXT project consortium in identifying, addressing and solving any ethical issues that may arise in connection with the domains of application and research related to the project itself. In accordance with the official EU guidelines, ethical issues are largely overlapping with human rights as defined in the EU treaties.
Even prior to the commencement of the project, the G-NEXT consortium identified specific areas where ethical issues could arise that require special attention:
- Dual-use aspects;
- Privacy and personal data protection (related to the use of volunteers, interviewees, etc. in the project).
- Data use and storage in terms of secured access to the data;
These issues are being dealt with by the consortium partners (through the Ethics Advisory Board - EAB) and an External Ethical Expert (EEE) according with the requirements of the European Commission’s relevant services.
The work carried out so far has helped to map the potential issues in order to develop procedures to mitigate any risk.
In addition, a “sensitivity check” mechanism has been put in place to avoid possible misuse of data that could potentially harm the EU or its Member States. The “sensitivity check” is carried out by the EEAS following a technical procedure agreed by EEAS/CMPD (Crisis Management and Planning Directorate), REA (Research Executive Agency) and DG ENTR (Directorate General for Enterprise and Industry – European Commission).