CBP will begin new border protection strategy in Arizona

Mix of technologies to cover areas that were slated for abandoned SBInet project

The Homeland Security Department will begin its new program for border protection in Arizona, a senior official said. DHS plans to spend roughly $750 million to acquire technologies for that segment of the border.

There is approximately $185 million available in the current fiscal year, and $242 million requested for fiscal 2012, to pay for integrated fixed towers, remote video cameras, hand-held devices, mobile systems and other technologies in Arizona, Mark Borkowski, assistant commissioner of Customs and Border Protection’s Office of Technology Innovation and Acquisition, said. The office held an Industry Day for vendors today in Arizona.

The new systems will cover the 370-mile Arizona border, with the exception of the 53 miles already covered by the SBInet “Block 1” electronic surveillance system in operation near Tucson and Ajo.

Related coverage:

DHS' new approach to border surveillance looks like SBInet

The SBInet Block 1 system will continue to operate as part of the new strategy, Borkowski said. However, previous plans to extend SBInet throughout the entire U.S.-Mexico land border were cancelled in January by DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano.

Arizona was selected first because it is the area with the most illegal cross-border activity; however, if the situation changes and the illegal activity migrates elsewhere along the border, the strategy would shift as well, Borkowski added.

Under the new strategy, with Arizona taking the lead, each of the nine geographic sectors along the border will have its own mix of technologies that are most suitable for that area.

Border patrol agents in Arizona have already assessed and prioritized 48 discrete combinations of technologies for proposed use along the border in that state, Borkowski said. Starting later this year, the department will issue several Requests for Proposals (RFPs) to begin acquiring those technologies.

“We will have multiple RFPs. We will be buying a bunch of systems,” he said.

An RFP for integrated fixed towers, which combines integrated sensors and a common operating picture, is likely to be released early next year, Borkowski continued.

Boeing Co., which was awarded the contract for SBInet in 2006, is “absolutely eligible” to apply for the new integrated fixed tower systems, once they go to bid, he added.

About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

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