Secure Interoperable Communications Project
FREESIC project creates a solution that will allow highly secure and cost effective interoperability between communication infrastructures over the entire Europe. The project has been inspired by legal, organizational and functional barriers the consortium has encountered during its previous activities, within which Sericom project has stood out for discovering the highest interoperability for final users. This consortium comprising 9 partners and 5 associated partners is well qualified to tackle the challenges inherent to FREESIC project.
This system must motivate final users from outside the consortium to request the incorporation of their providers or system integrators. Such architecture will take into account research in its standardization phases in order to minimize incorporation time as well as costs.
In the past few years, First-Response organizations all across Europe have considerably improved their communications through the deployment of new technologies, including dedicated networks such as TETRA and TETRAPOL. However, a chain of recent incidents has brought to light the major challenges faced by rescue workers; particularly, interoperability barriers. There are considerable burdens on the response budgets of emergency organisms that are not in the position to invest significant portions of their budgets towards interoperability, which is a resource needed only on isolated occasions; therefore, the solution must be cost-efficient.
Our work for SECRICOM FP7 Security Project was a learning experience in terms of the real status of interoperability, as well as the real-life limitations that inhibits this goal. Such hindrances are more related to the business and the final user’s culture or organization than to technical issues:
- Diverging doctrines between agencies and countries
- Considerable burden on response-agency emergency budgets
- Optimization of existing investments
- Multiple systems deployed all across the EU
- Confidence in and concern for security
- Classified Information
- International agreements and legal limitations
- Companies: long-term contracts
Interoperability gains particular importance during the most crucial incidents: deactivation of explosive artifacts, public Coast Guard services, technical search and rescue, rescue operations in service roads, hazardous materials and the mitigation of another disaster. In response to these, many Agencies will become involved, various Command Posts will collaborate and a Crisis Management Center will be deployed.
Not only is readily-available information important, because if such information is fraudulent, altered or stolen, the consequences could become very serious; altered information, at the right moment, could easily constitute a far-reaching terrorist weapon. This is the reason why communication systems are often designed to handle classified information and are thus certified (generally either at EU level, restricted or confidential).
The interoperability platform for systems interconnection must use equal or higher security assurance levels; otherwise, such interoperability would become vulnerability. In addition, interfaces with systems of this type are often classified; there are legal intellectual property rights or contract issues that limit interoperability.
FREESIC project has decided to confront this issue, which encompasses the research and approaches to trying to provide the most secure, effective and cost-efficient interoperability among all communication systems, without having to endure the arduous task of integrating Sisyphean one by one.
FREESIC shall be cost-efficient, based on EU Standards and regular protocols, such that the time and effort required for the integration of information be minimal. Motivation for system integrators will be making new services available to their users. The work may be later re-utilized by different organisms operating under the same technology.