Past Features

November 6, 2017

DHS seeking down-to-earth
border solutions?

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American Border Patrol -- November 6, 2017    
Homeland Security Seeking Ideas for Border Detection Systems
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security [Customs and Border Protection is seeking ideas from industry help secure the border using ground sensors. On October 18, DHS/CBP issued a Request for Information (RFI) “to seek information about linear ground detection and identification capabilities.”
    More specifically, the RFI says:
"The purpose of this RFI is to seek industry information about linear ground detection and identification system capabilities that are able to detect all entering threats without being affected by blind spots created by man-made and natural occurring obstacles. This capability should also be capable of discriminating between human, animal, and vehicle targets in all terrains, landscapes, and weather conditions present where USBP conducts operations. The system should be scalable and deployable across all environments throughout the Southwest Border and Northern Border.“
    Four years ago the Los Angeles Times reported on serious problems plaguing the Border Patrol's ground sensors:
"The problems with the existing sensors are not new. The sensors were flagged to be replaced during an earlier federal effort called the Secure Border Initiative. It was hoped that the sensors would enable Border Patrol agents to be in position to apprehend 90% of border incursions. But in 2005, the Homeland Security inspector general reported that only 4% of the ground sensor alarms signaled confirmed cases of smugglers or others trying to cross the border."
    Three years ago Wired Magazine reported that CBP's plans to improve existing ground sensors linking them by radio had been postponed by indefinitely owing to frequency management problems.
    With criticism of President Trump's Wall, there have been calls for greater use of technology.
    The Hill --- October 14, 2017:
.... Currently, a lack of adequate technology makes it remarkably difficult for the U.S. Border Patrol to get an early warning of just what type of threat such incidents represent, despite an extensive network of video cameras and unattended ground sensors.
    That is why the House Homeland Security Committee's passage of a $10 billion border security bill last week is an important first step in plugging porous frontier areas without breaking the budget. Although Democrats were quick to skewer the Republican-backed bill as an empty gesture to please President Trump, the language of the committee's bill rejects Trump's grandiose campaign pledge of a "big, beautiful" wall stretching from coast to coast.
    In doing so, it is part of a growing consensus within U.S. government agencies that the wall needs to be "smart" --- a hybrid of physical and technological barriers that give Border Patrol agents far better awareness of threats than they currently have.
    Submissions under the DHS/CBP RFI are due tomorrow, November 7.
    It is not known if DHS/CBP will announce the results of their search.