Past Features

June 3, 2017

A Virtual Wall?

"Once the sensors have been tossed into place, they are powered by a small solar panel, which powers batteries designed to last at least four and possibly seven years. A proprietary combination of detectors inside each egg-shaped sensor is designed to identify motion, infrared light and heat and other pieces of evidence that human life is nearby."
Star Telegram -- June 2, 2017
This Fort Worth company has a new concept for Trump's border wall
    A small Fort Worth defense contractor believes it has a better idea for stopping illegal immigration and drug smuggling along the U.S.-Mexico border: a virtual wall using computer technology and thousands of portable sensors.
    Workers at WilliamsRDM, which sells everything from fire suppression devices to electronic parts for fighter planes and rocket launchers, say they are confident that their sensor system would work better than the physical border wall advocated by President Trump --- for a fraction of the cost.
    Depending upon how the sensor network was used, the total cost of installing WilliamsRDM's system along the entire 1,954-mile length of the border in Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California could be about $300 million, company officials said. That's a little more than 1 percent of the roughly $21.6 billion estimate for a brick-and-mortar wall, according to the Department of Homeland Security.
    And a sensor system could potentially alleviate concerns that many Texans have about building a physical wall along the Rio Grande, including worries about massive flooding, loss of wildlife and the government seizure of private property. [...]
    The concept has gained the attention of Republican Congresswoman Kay Granger, who represents Fort Worth. Granger has seen a demonstration of WilliamsRDM's system and supports further study of it.
    Granger, a former member of the Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee, has long advocated for tougher border security. She also has spoken in support of measures that preserve the export of goods from the United States to Mexico and Canada, and preservation of business relationships among those countries.
    “I've always been a supporter of local businesses and the efforts of Della Williams and her team represent the kind of creative approach to solving tough challenges that make Fort Worth such a vibrant community,” Granger said in an email. “Securing the border is one of the largest challenges we face as a nation, so it's great to see local businesses like WilliamsRDM putting forward creative solutions.”

Glenn Spencer -- American Border Patrol -- June 3
Challenges, but supported
    As the Star-Telegram reports, "The sensors do have some vulnerabilities. For example, someone crossing the border illegally could come across a sensor and either pick it up off the ground and carry it away, or perhaps try to destroy it with a gunshot or by banging it against a rock. Or some sensors could inadvertently land upside down or perhaps in a shady area that limits their battery charging capability.”
    While the concept advanced by WilliamsRDM has serious challenges, I applaud Congresswoman Granger for supporting her local company's efforts to secure the border.