NATO's Strategic Warfare Development Command

The NATO Stability Policing Centre of Excellence Responds to the Coronavirus Challenge

May 5, 2020


VICENZA, Italy (May 8, 2020) – The NATO Stability Policing Centre of Excellence is the undisputed NATO authority in its subject matter. The Centre, based in Vicenza, a northern Italian city particularly affected by the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, continues to use their Remotely Piloted Aircraft System to creatively scan the environment from above.

The Centre is the Alliance’s interface with International Organizations and non-NATO institutions in the area of Stability Policing, which is the NATO-agreed term defining a set of police-related activities intended to strengthen, or temporarily substitute, indigenous police in order to contribute to the restoration and/or upholding of public order and security, the rule of law, and the protection of human rights.

The Czech Republic, France, Greece, Italy, Poland, Romania, Spain, the Netherlands and Türkiye all contribute to the Centre. It is a modern, adaptive, cooperative and supportive organization, where high-quality knowledge and products are requested by a network of customers and partners from within and outside NATO.

At the onset of the COVID-19 crisis, the Centre was ready to help. At first, due to the widespread shortage of protective masks in the area, the Centre provided a small number of masks that were held in stock to the Municipality of Vicenza. This symbolic gesture highlighted the constant support of the Alliance to the local populace. The Centre’s personnel then offered to donate blood to the local hospital, which valued the gesture and scheduled blood donations to a later stage to avoid overcrowding hospital labs.

As a support to its host nation, in early March, the Centre deployed (free of charge) the Remotely Piloted Aircraft System, which can take footage (imagery and video) to prevent mishaps, which might jeopardize public health, and can intervene, should major accidents occur in remote spots, when locations are difficult to reach by regular means of transportation. At all time, the drone operates in support of the local Carabinieri Provincial Headquarters, which provides general civilian policing services and does not have this capability yet, nor specialised personnel.

The Remotely Piloted Aircraft System is normally used for training purposes and to produce overhead shots. Its utility in times of crisis is now better understood.

Additionally, the Centre of Excellence deployed two required certified pilots, both from the Italian Carabinieri, as “pilots specialised in non-critical operations.” This certification enables them to use Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems when taking flight.

The Centre of Excellence has balanced the need to protect the people who work there with the real need to assist local police authorities. All the Centre’s members received protective gear.

Colonel Giuseppe De Magistris (Italian Carabinieri), Director of the NATO Stability Policing Centre of Excellence, re-enforced the need to balance the needs of his people with the needs of the community:

“Although the COVID-19 outbreak has forced Italy to an almost total lockdown, reducing all nation-wide activities in order to diminish social interaction and, consequently, the possibility of transmitting the virus, I have been doing my utmost to allow my staff to safely keep running business as usual.

Indeed, the health and safety of all members of the Centre is at the heart of all the measures that I have taken so far to minimise the impact of the Coronavirus. These measures include the possibility for staff to work on shifts, to reduce … the number of people working in the same office at the same time, and encouraging ‘smart working,’ as well as the opportunity to undergo – on voluntary basis only – serology testing for SARS-CoV-2, which fortunately [has produced ‘negative results’] for all our personnel.

But, we cannot focus on ensuring business continuity only, while Italy continues to face harsh times. From the very beginning of the pandemic, we have paid particular attention to the needs of the local population. Indeed ‘We Are NATO’ and the wellbeing of our citizens is at the heart of each member of the Centre!”

All the measures taken by the Centre have been well received by the local community, which now has a better understanding of the Centre and the Alliance alike.

“Indeed, we have built a bridge between the local population and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization/ NATO’s support to civil authorities is not well known in this area, except for those who work in direct connection with NATO. As part of numerous NATO initiatives across Europe, we are proud to do our small part in addressing  COVID-19 challenges,” said Colonel De Magistris.


For more information about the NATO Stability Policing Centre of Excellence, please visit: www.nspcoe.org/about-us/history/nato-sp-coe

Quick Facts about the Remotely Piloted Aircraft System:

  • Powered by a 25-minute rechargeable battery (plus five in supply), which allows for a seven kilometre-radius fly;
  • Provided with a recognition plate, issued by the Italian Civil Aviation Authority, and with a liability insurance;
  • Can be used to fly over areas that are not easily accessible to Carabinieri patrol cars and broadcast real-time images;
  • Weighs two kilograms or less.