In post-pandemic Europe, migrants will face digital fortress

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Police officers patrol alongside a steel wall at Evros river, near the village of Poros, at the Greek -Turkish border, Greece, Friday, May 21, 2021. An automated hi-tech surveillance network being built on the Greek-Turkish border aiming at detecting migrants early and deterring them from crossing, with river and land patrols using searchlights and long-range acoustic devices. (AP Photo/Giannis Papanikos)

PEPLO – As the world begins to travel again, Europe is sending migrants a loud message: Stay away!

Greek border police are firing bursts of deafening noise from an armored truck over the frontier into Turkey. Mounted on the vehicle, the long-range acoustic device, or “sound cannon,” is the size of a small TV set but can match the volume of a jet engine.

It’s part of a vast array of physical and experimental new digital barriers being installed and tested during the quiet months of the coronavirus pandemic at the 200-kilometer (125-mile) Greek border with Turkey to stop people entering the European Union illegally.

A new steel wall, similar to recent construction on the U.S.-Mexico border, blocks commonly-used crossing points along the Evros River that separates the two countries.

Nearby observation towers are being fitted with long-range cameras, night vision, and multiple sensors. The data will be sent to control centers to flag suspicious movement using artificial intelligence analysis.

“We will have a clear ‘pre-border’ picture of what’s happening,” Police Maj. Dimonsthenis Kamargios, head of the region’s border guard authority, told the Associated Press.

The EU has poured 3 billion euros ($3.7 billion) into security tech research following the refugee crisis in 2015-16, when more than 1 million people — many escaping wars in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan — fled to Greece and on to other EU countries.

The automated surveillance network being built on the Greek-Turkish border is aimed at detecting migrants early and deterring them from crossing, with river and land patrols using searchlights and long-range acoustic devices.