Technologies to enhance the fight against crime and terrorism

Organized crime and terrorist organisations are often at the forefront of technological innovation in planning, executing and concealing their criminal activities and the revenues stemming from them. Law Enforcement Agencies (LEAs) are often lagging behind when tackling criminal activities supported by advanced technologies.


There is a growing need to focus on technology opportunities provided by new and emerging technologies. To this end, it is necessary to identify new knowledge and targeted technologies for fighting old, new and evolving forms of criminal and terrorist behaviour supported by advanced technologies. Challenges are numerous. In conventional investigations, rapid and near real-time forensics is often crucial for preventing subsequent attacks or crimes. A consequence of the increasing digitisation of society and ever increasing adoption levels is that virtually any type of crime has a digital forensics component, which is a challenge in itself. Money-flow tracking represents yet another challenge. The issues of location and jurisdiction need to be addressed, taking into account highly probable cross-border nature of such crimes.

Proposals should be submitted under only one of the following sub-topics:

  • Sub-topic 1: [2019] Trace qualification

Forensic analysis of trace material can be extremely helpful in the initial phase of investigation, if the answers are rapid (near real-time), at an acceptable cost and compliant with criminal justice. Novel robotized or automated tools for forensic analysis should be developed. There is a need for a better knowledge and interpretation of: trace composition, time when they were left, cause of their origin (crime-related or inoffensive), etc.

  • Sub-topic 2: [2018] Digital forensics in the context of criminal investigations

New forensic tools, techniques and methodologies are needed, based on common practices, standards, protocols and/or interoperability requirements that allow for rapid retrieval, storage, analysis and validation of digital evidence (including the one stored in the cloud) that upholds in court, and enables investigations to identify perpetrators as well as victims, in particular in cases of child sexual abuses. They should focus on data gathering, data exploitation, and speedy exchange of information. All types of crime, terrorist activities and propaganda, and malicious acts by foreign-state perpetrators are concerned. Research in this domain should take into account new and emerging trends (for instance, abuse of encryption for criminal or terrorist purposes), while fully respecting fundamental rights such as the right to privacy and the right to protection of personal data.

  • Sub-topic 3: [2020] Money flows tracking
  • Sub-topic: [2018-2019-2020] Open

Proposals addressing other issues relevant to this challenge (for instance: technologies to improve LEAs capabilities (including augmented reality); autonomous systems to improve the fight against crime and terrorism; technologies to support better protection of public figures; tracking and monitoring technologies, including automated prevention of uploading terrorism-related content; capabilities to detect the widest possible range of threats and concealments (including complex concealed weapons)) and supported by a large number of practitioners are invited to apply under this sub-topic (see eligibility and admissibility conditions).

In all sub-topics and in order to facilitate the EU-wide take-up of new technologies, proposers are encouraged to include the design of innovative curricula for LEAs training and (joint) exercises, and of information packages for the wider public and civil society organisations.

Proposals should lead to solutions developed in compliance with European societal values, fundamental rights and applicable legislation including in the area of privacy and protection of personal data. Societal aspects (e.g. perception of security, possible side effects of technological solutions, societal resilience) have to be addressed in a comprehensive and thorough manner.

The centre of gravity for technology development with actions funded under this topic is expected to be up to TRL 4 to 6 – see General Annex G of the Horizon 2020 Work Programme.

The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU of about EUR 7 million would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.

Expected Impact

Medium term:

  • novel, user-friendly technologies, tools and/or systems, addressing traditional or emerging forms of crime and terrorism at acceptable costs;
  • improved investigation capabilities, especially regarding quality and speed;
  • increased efficiency and effectiveness of the information sharing among EU LEAs.

Long term:

  • prevention/reduction of criminal and terrorist threats;
  • harmonisation of information formats at international level, improved cross-border acceptance and exchange of court-proof evidence, standardised evidence collection and harmonised procedures in the investigation of trans-border crimes in full compliance with applicable legislation on protection of personal data.

Delegation Exception Footnote

It is expected that this topic will continue in 2020.

Cross-cutting Priorities

Socio-economic science and humanities

Date de candidature
Sciences sociales : Droit, Psychologie et sciences cognitives, Sociologie