SIS is getting a complete makeover: what challenges are its users facing?

by Heloise Wauters - Legal Counsel
| minute read

The Schengen Information System is the largest European system for information exchange in security and border management and will soon undergo its most extensive evolution since its go live in 2013. New legislations adopted in 2018 introduce new features, users, and functionalities for SIS and are designed to improve EU Member States cooperation efficiency in their fight against crime. Implementing these updates will create a number of challenges for SIS users.  

The Schengen Information System is operated by the European Union Agency eu-LISA and is used by 34 Members and the Associated States of the Schengen Area. It enables law enforcement and border guard agencies to enter and search alerts on persons and objects: e.g., wanted persons, stolen vehicles, or travel documents. This critical large-scale IT system stores more than 91 million alert records and was accessed 6.7 billion times by its users in 2019.

As an eu-LISA contractor, Sopra Steria is in charge of the maintenance and evolutions of SIS II since 2018. We ensure that the system functionalities are in line with regulatory changes and that its performance is able to handle the increasing use of the system.

SIS is getting a facelift

Three years ago, the European Union adopted three new Regulations that expand the capacity of the system to further strengthen the protection of the Schengen Area. These Regulations set a major functional upgrade to the system impacting many SIS end-users and in particular, the SIRENE Bureaux, responsible for the information exchange between the Schengen Member States around SIS alerts.

The SIS Recast Regulations introduce several modifications that are currently being implemented towards a “go live” at the begining of 2022. These include new data (alert for unknown wanted persons connected to a serious crime), new services (the ability to make an alert unavailable during a limited period of time), an introduction of new biometric identifiers such as DNA or Palm Prints, wider access to SIS users, among others.

A real puzzle at national level

The European Union imposes strict planning to implement these important enhancements, resulting in several challenges for the Member States:

  • National systems and connectors used to create new alerts and request services will have to be updated to meet the new requirements imposed by the regulations.
  • The SIRENE Bureaux tools will have to be upgraded and their teams will have to adapt to the Recast’s new way of working.
  • The SIS national copy will have to comply with the new data model.
  • National systems will have to integrate the new biometric identifiers and implement necessary modifications to be compatible with the updated AFIS.

Important changes are ahead of the Schengen Member States who will need to hire additional human resources to implement numerous upgrades in parallel: SIS Recast, AFIS Phase 2, and the Interoperability framework. This new workload will therefore have an impact on their IT budgets.

Capitalising on our unrivaled knowledge of SIS, the European regulatory framework, and intimacy with eu-LISA processes, Sopra Steria is the right end-to-end consulting and technical partner to help you efficiently embrace these upcoming challenges and anticipate the impacts of such changes on your national N.SIS applications.

Our sound methodological approach enables your organisation to be in control of cost, to establish and manage your master planning, to provide training at a technical and business level and to ensure large-scale coordination within your organisation.

These upgrades need to be tackled step-by-step, as illustrated in our essential’s checklist for a smooth and on-schedule implementation.

If you need help to achieve the objectives of these upgrades or if you want to know more about SIS Recast, please contact Héloïse Wauters.