SECURITY

Portugal unveils new high-tech system to protect its coast

The new system is based on 20 radars and cameras installed along the coast

On the same day a European border surveillance network called Eurosur went into effect, Portugal announced a new system of its own to control its 950 kilometers of coast.

While Eurosur will provide real-time information to 18 EU member states and Norway, helping coordinate the fight against human trafficking, Portugal now has its own new system to detect vessels entering its 24 nautical miles of jurisdiction. The cameras, radars and sensors were installed by Spanish firm Indra and turned over to the Guardia Nacional Republicana, Portugal’s equivalent of Spain’s Civil Guard.

The time had come for an upgrade: since 2009, coastal surveillance had fallen to patrol boats and agents who physically went down to the beaches following an alert. An earlier system of radars and sensors was deactivated that year after becoming obsolete.

The new system is based on 20 radars and cameras installed along the coast. There are also eight trucks equipped with their own radars and cameras, which will be stationed in spots requiring immediate intervention. The system’s “brain” is in Lisbon, where around 30 officers watch the incoming images.

Interior Minister Miguel Macedo said the goal of the system was to fight illegal immigration, smuggling, drug trafficking, illegal fishing and environmental crimes.

The network, which cost 31 million euros, should have been operational in 2009, but a series of “difficulties and problems” made installing the cameras “a real torment,” said Macedo. Sometimes the best spot was already taken by military sensors, while other times environmental regulations prohibited installation.

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