Dr Antonino Scribellito, European Affairs –Senior Project Manager at PostEurop highlights how SAFEPOST has enhanced security in postal systems across Europe…
SAFEPOST enhanced the security and safety of approximately 1.6 million postal employees in the EU, by mitigating the risk of explosives, radioactive materials, biological weapons, and dangerous chemical substances, among other harmful materials, causing health or life-threatening incidents with the personnel operating the postal networks. The project supports the reduction of theft and pilferage in the postal system, e.g. through more accurate mail identification and tracking capabilities, as well by introducing training and creating a strong transparent, co-operative culture.
The Postal system plays an important role in the smuggling activities of narcotics, including cocaine and heroin, with societal costs (health care, legal etc.) in billions of Euros in the EU. SAFEPOST supports the identification (and seizures) of mail containing narcotics materials, thus reducing the societal cost in the EU.
SAFEPOST has made significant contribution in the following areas:
- Improved the EU’s awareness and coordination of activities within and between EU Member States in the field of postal security and developments in supply chain security.
- Linked EU projects from (DG MOVE, DG TAXUD, DG ENTR) and national efforts, to exploit synergies and created a coordinated approach to security throughout the entire supply chain.
- Encouraged all European postal providers and related authorities to assume responsibility in securing their own processes within a European wide cooperative distributed model.
- Created transparency on the way postal security measures are enforced, and provided benchmarks.
- Established a Europe wide forum to discuss and agree a Postal Security Target Operating Model (PostEurop Framework), which will provide the basis for potential improvements in the existing standards.
The quality, efficiency and reliability of postal services are a pan-European challenge. If equipment, procedures or competencies in a European post office differ from one Member State to another, there will be a high risk that organised crime and terrorists will take advantage of the weaker checkpoints, jeopardising the efforts of other Member States and of the European Union as a whole. Because of this, SAFEPOST is coordinated by PostEurop with the ultimate goal to establish solutions designed to address collectively agreed priority areas and have been adopted by all. SAFEPOST promoted new operational concepts through increased integration between systems and organisations, it is clear that this cannot be achieved without international cooperation.
The SAFEPOST integrated Project gathered all the operational critical mass necessary to conduct such a complex project. The size of the consortium was kept to the necessary minimum, as SAFEPOST reused an extensive know how from reference projects and incorporated existing products and prototypes, focusing effort on innovative improvement, adaptation and integration and not on the full development of completely new technologies. This approach focused on producing real tangible results creating added value to the whole European postal services community.
SAFEPOST being an EU scale project answered to key European policy challenges by allowing better integration of European R&D, facilitating the transfer of skills and knowledge across Member States.
SAFEPOST Project Work Package 6 (WP6) – SAFEPOST Pilot (Demonstration) is a crucial part of the project and is well on its way. WP6 is aimed at organising full scale demonstrators of SAFEPOST, based solutions in order to evaluate the feasibility and the benefits of the SAFEPOST approach. This helped in acquiring postal operations related data, handling it, exchanging it, sharing it and in screening and optimising the distribution chain.
One of the SAFEPOST Project partners TelluSecure (TLS) has developed a prototype system, D-tube, for scanning controlled substances. The prototype system is able to detect packets and bags containing explosives or narcotics in real time and is suitable for integration into the sorting facility conveyor belt flow.
The D-tube prototype detection system uses a multi element detector for the generation of the chemical profiles. The system operates in near real time with high precision and specificity by examining vapour substances. The system also takes into account the varying background vapours ubiquitously present in the air. Following a positive match to one or more targeted profiles, a number of possible actions are triggered: as an example, by interaction with the IT system in the packet sorting facility suspicious packets could be automatically diverted to a separate destination and information sent to the appropriate authorities.
One of the most important events in relation to the SAFEPOST Project is the live demonstration meetings applied on the field in the Postal Operators Sorting centers. The demonstrators have been designed to validate the SAFEPOST solutions under realistic conditions, to ascertain feasibility and benefits of the solutions and to provide feedback to enable improvements.
The first live demonstration meeting took place in Iceland, Reykjavik on 20th May 2015 to analyse deeply the process of postal items flow through D-Tube and find the room for improvements.
The second live demonstration meeting was held in Correos sorting center on 11th June 2015 in Zaragoza, Spain with the high level participation, in total 70 participants, from European Commission DG Home Affairs, DG TAXUD, PostEurop members, external supply chain stakeholder, Customs Authorities and SAFEPOST Project Consortium partners. The live demonstration of the SAFEPOST Project illustrated the improvements made since the first demonstration took place in Iceland. The demonstration meeting at Correos provided a showcase for the ‘e-Nose’, the Image Recognition software, the risk assessment module (PSS) and the CPSS Dashboard. The primary objectives were to demonstrate how these solutions could enhance the operators capability, for effective & effortless risk assessment, including a new range of detection options which are cost-effective, and do not slow down the existing parcels throughput in the operators sorting centres. Furthermore, through the provided CPSS Dashboard, the operators are able to consolidate in a single user interface, a view of all their common as well as security related data, and draw conclusions both on a parcel level as well as on a set of parcels examined for a specific period of time.
The third live Hellenic Post demonstration meeting took place in Athens, Greece with high-level participation of PostEurop Members, Customs Authorities, Law Enforcement Agencies, UPU and several stakeholders – in total 90 participants.
The demonstration meetings at Iceland Post, Correos and Hellenic Post showed that the SAFEPOST technology can be applied directly in postal production lines and processes that are currently separate but can be brought together with the Common Postal Security Space. The purpose of the SAFEPOST demonstration was to provide an operational environment to showcase and test the SAFEPOST security solutions in order to evaluate the feasibility and the benefits of the project’s approach in acquiring mail related data, handling it, exchanging it and sharing it.