HP to Help Protect Borders

The European Commission (EC) has contracted HP to help
protect the borders of 10 member countries, the company said today.

The computer and printer maker is under a $48.5 million agreement in
collaboration with IT services global operator Steria, as well as two
other European companies — Mummert in Germany and Primesphere in
Luxembourg. The consortium is responsible for developing the second generation of the Schengen Information System (SIS II) and the Visa Information System (VIS).

The SIS is the largest border control and police information system
in the world. Fifteen EU countries, including Austria, Belgium, France,
Germany, Italy, Greece, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal, and Spain,
currently use the existing SIS.

With a Schengen visa, travelers may enter one country and travel
freely throughout the Schengen zone with few or no stops and checks.
This means that internal air, road and train travel are handled as
domestic trips, similar to travel from one state to another in the U.S.

Its replacement, SIS II, is a database that gives national police
authorities of all participating member states’ information on criminals
and terrorists, as well as stolen vehicles, ID documents and banknotes.

Once it is fully functional in 2007, the EC said the SIS II will be much
more flexible than the current system and will also be able to store
photographic images and fingerprints. In addition, HP said the
infrastructure of the new system will make it easier to adapt to future
EU requirements.

“Ensuring citizen safety and security requires that technologies be
able to adapt to the demands of global migration, border security,
terrorism and crime prevention,” Bernard Meric, a senior vice president
and managing director with HP’s Europe Middle East and Africa group,
said in a statement. “These demands are constantly changing, expanding
in scope and can be unpredictable in nature.

VIS is a new centrally deployed, large-scale information system that
will allow member state authorities to access all visa requests for
entry to Schengen area countries. It is expected that there will be more
than 20 million visa requests and more than 45 million requests to check
the validity of issued visas made yearly.

Under the terms of the agreement, the group will provide the EC with HP Integrity Superdome servers based on Intel Itanium
processors, high-end and high-availability storage and HP OpenView
systems management. Within the consortium, HP’s role will be providing
ongoing monitoring and support services.

The four companies said they
have already begun building the new systems. The commission is expected
to validate them in 2007.

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