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Innovating for security: Making transport safer with PREVENT PCP

With over 60 billion passengers travelling on public transport in Europe every year, unattended items pose a major security challenge. That’s why SNCF has joined an international consortium developing pioneering technology to detect and assess potential terrorist threats in real time. Here’s how it works.

4-minute read

Détecter et évaluer en temps réel toute menace terroriste potentielle

Launched in 2018 with funding from the European Commission, the PREVENT project was tasked with identifying new technologies to combat terrorist threats. This broad partnership worked through a 16-member consortium of transport and security specialists from 8 European countries.

As a member of the consortium, SNCF’s Railway Security division (Sûreté Ferroviaire) shared its expertise on assessing threats, analysing vulnerabilities and identifying new security technologies.

At the end of the project, participants concluded that their first research priority should be unattended items—a genuine threat and a major challenge.

In response, a new project was launched in September 2021. Backed once more by the European Commission, PREVENT PCP involves 24 partners, with SNCF taking a key role. The aim? To develop and deploy technology that can detect unattended items and identify and automatically locate their owners.

Assessing potential threats in real time

The PREVENT PCP project plans to work with industrial groups, SMEs, start-ups and academics to develop innovative technologies based on video analytics algorithms.

The goal is to develop a solution that can detect an unattended item in real time and immediately identify its owner to determine whether it was deliberately left behind. Where necessary, the system would automatically begin tracking the owner and locate them rapidly, enabling security staff to respond appropriately to the potential threat. The new technology should also improve operational efficiency, minimize service disruptions and improve passenger satisfaction with public transport.

Railway Security—driving innovation

Because unattended items1 are a research priority, PREVENT PCP is backed by significant resources. It has a €13.3 million budget—90% financed by the European Commission—and a 3‑year development phase.

With its technical and operational expertise, SNCF’s Railway Security division is at the forefront. During operational validation in France, Spain, Portugal and Italy, it will coordinate contributions from French and European participants, including France’s Provence-Alps-Riviera region and Paris transit authority RATP. The division will also work on the requirements specification and the functional/technical specifications for the solution developed by PREVENT PCP.

Learn more about rail security

First full-scale testing in 2023

Large-scale trials of PREVENT PCP’s new security solution are set for autumn 2023, when France will host the Rugby World Cup.

In this phase, the technology will be tested under actual conditions at Paris Nord station. Researchers will use the results to make improvements and ensure that the new solution is fully optimized ahead of rollout at stations in Paris and Marseille for the 2024 Paris Olympics and Paralympics.

1 In addition to posing a security threat to people and property, unattended luggage is the number one cause of delays for our TGV and INTERCITÉS trains.