How Data Infrastructures Shape the Control of Mobilities in Europe

Terrorist attacks that target transportation hubs. Smuggling and trafficking networks that operate across borders. Migrants who risk their lives in their attempts to reach and move across Europe. All these actors, practices and phenomena are exemplary of the interrelatedness between insecurity and mobility. This interrelatedness fuels major investments in the development of technologies that mediate security processes through which mobile subjects (commuters, travellers, migrants, refugees) and objects (cargo, containers) are controlled. This project focuses specifically on data infrastructures that support pan-European cooperation in the fields of law enforcement, border security and migration management. The central objective is to analyse how such infrastructures shape logics and tactics of mobility control. To meet this objective, it is necessary to:

  • Understand the logics of control translated into the functionalities of data infrastructures. Functionalities refer to the data that IT systems process and the services that they provide to users (e.g. police, border, and migration authorities).
  • Understand how users interact with data infrastructures and identify potential problems that they experience when consulting data. Such problems can be related, for example, to false negatives (e.g. nonidentification of a person wanted for arrest) and false positives (e.g. wrongful identification and prosecution of an individual).
  • Understand the reasons why such problems emerge. For example, misidentifications may be caused by the bad quality of data stored in IT systems, the lack of communication between national authorities when updating such data, and the limited transnational sharing of intelligence due to, for instance, mistrust between the authorities of different EU Member States.
  • Understand the societal risks that may emerge from the use of the systems. For example, risks linked to the targeting and discrimination of marginalised social groups, the algorithmic generation of biased risk profiles used for policing and border security purposes, and the transgression of human rights principles.


Georgios Glouftsios (PI) (School of International Studies University of Trento)

Research Team

  • Anna Casaglia (Supervisor) (School of International Studies, University of Trento)
  • Georgios Glouftsios (PI) (School of International Studies University of Trento)
  • Annalisa Pelizza (Partner / External Advisor, Department of Philosophy and Communication, University of Bologna)
  • Andrea Membretti (Partner / External Advisor, EURAC Research, Bolzano)


Fondazione Caritro (in the framework of Post-doc Fellows Call 2020).