New technology could reduce risk of repeat De Menezes killing

The accidental killing of Jean Charles de Menezes might not have happened if police had access to...

The accidental killing of Jean Charles de Menezes might not have happened if police had access to technology unveiled yesterday in Newport, according to the head of systems integrator EADS Defence and Security Systems Ltd.

Defence contractor EADS Defence & Security demonstrated a collection of commercial off-the-shelf and custom-built IT systems that it integrated to provide decision-makers from ministers to police officers with real-time choices during operations.

These systems taken together could have given the entire chain of command enough information to disqualify De Menezes as a terrorist suspect at the incident, said Tony Bagnall, head of operations at Innovation Works centre part of the £35m EADS research and development laboratory in Newport, which opened officially this week.

EADS unveiled a dozen civilian and commercial applications of technologies developed originally by EADS' Innovation Works division for the military and security services.

It also demonstrated an information management system which provides operators and decision-makers with an updated range of options and consequences in response to real-time changes in the monitored situation.

"It is a decision support tool, not a decision-making tool," Bagnall said. "The person on the ground is always the final decision-maker."

Bagnall said the Pulse system may not have prevented De Menezes's death, because of the human and emotional stress factors, but it would have reduced dramatically the chance of the police shooting the wrong man, he said.

In a demonstration of Pulse, Bagnall showed how data from sensors, CCTV and drone helicopters could be used to identify, track, assess and deal with the threat posed by multiple suspect people and objects.

The given scenario was the detection of a known terrorist sympathiser at the upcoming Ryder Cup golf tournament in Wales and the simultaneous deviation of two hired helicopters from their expected flight paths.

Scores of representatives from the security and emergency services saw how location, equipment and personnel data came into a central control room. Information relevant to the police, military and FireControl emergency response services was separated and presented in photo-realistic 3D simulations and digital maps, and associated with background intelligence and threat impact assessments.

A separate command room contained a screen that aggregated the information and showed checks on governance issues such as who was authorised to give which orders.

Given the need for such communications to be secret and secure, Bagnall said the firm intended to use its new encryption device, Ectocryp, to encrypt the information. Ectocryp simultaneously secures the relevant data and voice transmissions between different networks, including the public internet, without affecting data rates and so compromising decision response times, the firm said.

Bagnall said all the live information was recorded so that it could be played back to extract lessons from the incident. It could also be used as a simulation tool to train emergency response teams. He described reactions from delegates as encouraging.

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