Drones and AI: CoESS accompanies new EU initiatives

The integration of new technologies into security services, for example by means of drones and artificial intelligence (AI), is advancing steadily. This trend is anything but new: as early as 2016, CoESS and BDSW jointly published a White Paper on the "New Security Company". At the EU level, efforts are now being made to increasingly regulate the use of new technologies: the European Commission has published a proposal for a European law on AI, and following the Drone Regulation, a Drone Strategy 2.0 is now also in the works - just two of many initiatives that will be of great importance for the legal framework of future security services. CoESS is therefore intensifying the open dialogue with the EU institutions on these topics.

The on-going transformation of the European security services

The European security industry, like other industries, is undergoing profound change - mainly due to technological advances that offer new opportunities for companies, employees and customers. In addition, societal developments and crises in the past have led to an increasing demand for security services in more sensitive areas where the use of innovative security solutions can bring considerable advantages - such as for the protection of Critical Infrastructures and public spaces and, more recently, for infection prevention and control.

The provision of such essential services brings with it new responsibilities for companies to deliver high quality security solutions, integrate new technologies appropriately and train staff accordingly. It is a development that CoESS has described in detail in various White Papers and assessed together with our European social partner UNI Europa in the EU-funded project "Anticipating, managing and preparing for employment change in the security industry".

Integration of new technologies in security solutions

In particular, the integration of new technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and drones into security solutions is expected to lead to an additional push for change in customer demand and new tasks for security services.

Drones can be integrated into security services in many different use cases, for example for detection and surveillance purposes on private customer premises, but also in Critical Infrastructure (ports, pipelines and railways), public spaces and events. For example, components of AI will increasingly be integrated into aviation security and remote surveillance solutions.

This development also leads to new skills requirements in our sector, which we are currently investigating in our EU-funded social partner project "INTEL: Skills Intelligence for the Private Security Sector". CoESS expects the sector to increasingly develop into a highly skilled, specialised service sector with corresponding labour market needs due to its critical role in public security. In doing so, there are also a number of challenges to be addressed - from the ongoing labour and skills shortages to issues such as public procurement practices based on quality criteria, as well as appropriate sectoral regulation that takes into account the increasingly important role that security companies play in public safety.

EU Initiatives on Drones and Artificial Intelligence

Technological change must therefore be shaped pro-actively to ensure the safe and sustainable integration of new solutions into services. This also depends on policy. At a time when innovative technologies such as AI are strongly on the rise, policymakers must not forget the users who play an important role in the successful and ethical adoption of these technologies. In the context of the European Drone Strategy 2.0, expected to be published in 2022, and the Commissions recent proposal for a European law on AI, CoESS advocates for a user- and human-centred approach that does not forget the needs of our businesses and workers.

To this end, CoESS has organised workshops for members this year, together with the European Commission, to shed light on how technologies such as drones and AI can be successfully integrated into security services and how we can create a regulatory framework that encourages and drives innovation, while ensuring key quality, safety and compliance standards are met.

The need for human-centric and user-friendly regulation

From the regulatory point of view, it is thereby important to keep certain principles in mind:

  • Lawful and ethical use: the deployment of new technologies such as drones and AI must, at all times and unconditionally, respect fundamental rights and data protection law.
  • The human interface and training: new technologies must be implemented in a human-centric way. They supplement the capabilities of the workforce, but do not replace it. Security officers must receive adequate and qualitative training that empowers them to reap the benefits of new technologies, keep them safe and guarantee their ethical and lawful use.
  • Legal certainty and liability: regulation must be very clear about the legal conditions of the use of new technologies and not leave loopholes that lead to questions on liability in the case of incidents. This also requires a clear training and qualification framework, as well as regulation that clarifies roles, competencies and responsibilities for the use of technologies in the private security services.
  • Avoid over-regulation: rules that are detached from reality and over-regulate will hamper innovation. One-size-fits-all regulations can often put unnecessary burden on producers and users, for example for low-risk use cases of technologies.
  • Reflection of the essential role of private security services: private security services will often deploy new technologies at the service of, and in cooperation with, law enforcement. This should be clearly reflected in legal frameworks, for example when it comes to the facilitated approval of drone operations.

The security industry should proactively drive the integration of innovative technologies into existing solutions, while also helping to shape the legislative framework to ensure that the needs of businesses and workers are properly addressed. Therefore, productive engagement with the EU institutions on the Drone Strategy 2.0 and the European law on AI will be at the heart of CoESS activities in the second half of this year.

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