U.S. Customs and Border Protection is extending video surveillance technology to the northern border, awarding $20 million to Boeing for systems in the Detroit and Buffalo Border Patrol Sectors.
CPB said the systems will be like those already in use along the Southwest Border and will provide a “proof-of-concept” to determine their capability in the environment along the Northern Border. It’s part of SBInet, the high-technology component of the nation’s Secure Border Initiative.
“The Northern Border Project technology deployment will provide lessons learned that will enable CBP to design better-tailored, longer-term technology options for the Northern Border,” said SBI Executive Director, Mark Borkowski. “It will also provide an immediate enhancement of capability to support the CBP agents and officers operating in the Detroit and Buffalo Sectors.”
The contract includes the design, installation, and deployment of 11 remote video surveillance systems in Detroit and five in Buffalo. Theses systems will help Border Patrol Agents expand their ability to detect, identify and respond to activity.
The Northern Border Project follows SBInet tests in the Southwest that demonstrated that a lot could be done with off-the-shelf technologies, but which also taught the Boeing and CBP some lessons, SBInet Executive Director Mark Borkowski said in an interview earlier this year.
For example, using satellite connections created unacceptable latency, he said of the initial tests in the Southwest, so that system will use microwave relays instead. Cameras high atop single poles sometimes shook and vibrated too much for a usable picture.
Software to help analyze video also needed to be calibrated, he said.
“The project got in a lot of trouble,” he said of the initial attempt.
The system underwent further tests in Playas, N.M., with deployment and operational testing rolling out this year.
Now, instead of monopole units, the Arizona day-night cameras are on stout four-legged modular towers (deployable in 20-foot-high sections) with solar panels, radar, other detection equipment and microwave links, along with a solid building to protect hardware at the base, and backup power.
The system is expected to be operational everywhere it’s needed along the Arizona-Mexico border by 2011 or 2012.
CBP chose the Detroit and Buffalo Sectors for the first technology deployment on the Northern Border based on their unique operational area which consists of coastal maritime, riverine, urban and rural environments.
Its part of a broad CBP effort to increase technology along the northern border. Earlier this year, CBP launched the first unmanned aerial vehicle on the northern border, out of Grand Forks Air Force Base in North Dakota.
Read more about CBP activities in the April 2009 issue of Government Video.