New Detection System For ‘Cayuco"- Boats

New detection system for Cayuco-boats

Published on : 26 March 2010 – 4:17pm
By RNW Africa Desk
Laura Corvo
Radio Netherlands Worldwide
March 26, 2010

Researchers from 7 European countries work on developing a surveillance system for monitoring and control of coastal areas which are sensitive to immigration and drugs- and weapon trafficking.

In this project, called the “AMASS Project”, the Technology Center for Innovation in Communications (CeTIC) from the University of Las Palmas in Gran Canaria is involved, among other public and private institutions. The total endowment of the project amounts to about five million euros subsidized by the European Union. The testing of the project will start in a few months in the Canaries and Malta.

The main novelties of this border monitoring device lay in its ability to reliably detect what type of boat approaches the coast. Until now the Integrated External Surveillance System (SIVE) was implanted in Spain. This system uses a series of technologies based on a network of radars and video cameras that convey the information to a control center to determine whether a vessel is suspicious or not. According to its creators, the new system is complementary and improves the efficiency. It consists of the placement of buoys with infrared cameras and hydrophones (to detect underwater sound) with which one can accurately determine the direction and type of the approaching vessel.

Radio Netherlands has spoken with Carlos Travieso, one of the main researchers of the project and teacher at the University of Las Palmas in Gran Canaria (ULPGC): “These devices allow us to capture a series of signals to identify illegal boats, which have very specific characteristics, and effectively give the alarm upon which the rescue services or the police can act”, he says.

African immigrant seized by spanish police
African immigrant seized by spanish police
Photo: AFP

Better guarded borders

The system is basically a pioneer in monitoring sea borders, allowing early detection and localization of small and medium vessels. One of its biggest advantages is that it provides an early warning of illegal activities at sea to the authorities and it significantly improves the control of European coasts. The device operates 24 hours a day, 365 days a year and in all weather conditions. The sensor network provides a 360 degree view of the area above the water, significantly improving the knowledge of the position of the item that generated the alert.

It is expected that after the testing period, the device can begin to operate at the end of 2011. “In addition to the rapid implementation of a rescue or necessary action after an alert, the system also would be lowering the use of resources such as patrol boats and surveillance helicopters, speeding up the process of rescuing human lives, which is one of our main objectives “, according to Travieso.

Decrease of the arrival of Cayucos to Spain

Since this year the arrival of illegal boats to the Spanish coast has been drastically reduced. According to recent data collected by the news agency Europa Press, at the Andalusian coast alone this phenomenon has been reduced by more than 75%. The main reasons for this decline in immigration are the unfavourable weather conditions of the past winter and the economic crisis that Spain is going through. Another factor that has greatly contributed to the diminishing is the border system that has effectively managed to intercept the illegal boats which intended to approach the Spanish coast. However, this system still has some shortcomings.

The truth is that according to the researchers, one of the main objectives of the project is to prevent the death of immigrants, either during the journey or when reaching the coast. This drama has been experienced in recent years with the influx of immigrants on illegal crossings where many have lost their lives.