Past Features

August 13, 2017

Evidence mounts of a
towering CBP mistake
Radar-guided cameras was a bad idea all along?

ABP drone 'Hermes" examines Integrated Fixed Tower in the Coronado National Forest. Solid white panels are radar.
Glenn Spencer -- August 13, 2017
Customs and Border Protection lacks real border technology accountability
  It was the ultimate solution to the border problem - use radar to detect people and track them with cameras. It was the theory behind the (failed) Boeing Virtual fence--- and the new Integrated Fixed Towers.
    According to Customs and Border Protection (March 22, 2016):
    "Each fixed surveillance tower unit consists of a fixed tower equipped with a suite of sensors including radar, electro-optical and infrared surveillance cameras, necessary power generation and communications equipment, capable of continuously detecting and tracking items of interest."
ABP questioned IFT radar from the outset
    From the very outset, American Border Patrol has questioned the use of ground radar in rough terrain such as found near Nogales, Arizona, where the Integrated Fixed Towers were first used.
    Earlier this year, we raised the same questions about Integrated Fixed Towers being installed in and near the Coronado National Forest.
    On July 27, the Sierra Vista Herald posted an ABP video: "Are New Border Patrol Cameras Blind?"
    The eight Integrated Fixed Towers in the Coronado National Forest, initially scheduled for completion in April, now sit idle pending testing that has been put off until next month.
Elbit Douglas IFT missing radar?
 On July 24, 2017, Elbit Systems of America issued a press release:
    FORT WORTH, TEXAS (July 24, 2017) – An Elbit Systems of America Integrated Fixed Tower (IFT) border security system passed U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) systems acceptance testing. This IFT system, located in the Douglas, Arizona, Area of Responsibility (AOR), marks the company's second successful deployment of the system, with the first occurring in the Nogales, Arizona, AOR. [...]
    As the system integrator, Elbit Systems of America furnishes the sensor towers with radar, day/night cameras, and command & control software, which correlates sensor information to provide a single operating picture.
An investigation by American Border Patrol found that the IFT system installed by Elbit near Douglas did not include radar, relying instead on a U.S. Border Patrol mobile radar unit parked alongside it.
    If ABP is right and the Douglas IFT has no radar, then the camera tower system installed by Elbit at Douglas is not of the type installed at Nogales, or at the Coronado National Forest --- both had radar.
    If this is true, why didn't the Elbit press release reveal this fact?
    Evidence is mounting that the theory of using radar to guide border cameras was flawed from the very outset.
    The real question is: Why did it take eleven years to answer this simple technical question?
    Because Customs and Border Protection lacks real border technology accountability.
NOTE: UPDATE! 1238 PDT -- ABP has learned that additional towers have been installed where CBP designated locations for INTEGRATED FIXED TOWERS near Douglas. -- Our preliminary assessment shows no radar at these locations, other than mobile Border Patrol units. We are following up on this information and will update in the near future. -- In the meantime, please consider this report to be preliminary.