SBInet Construction Begins in Detroit Sector

The Northern Border Project will provide remote surveillance capabilities on the U.S. side of the Detroit and Buffalo Border Patrol Sectors using technology already in use along the Southwest Border.      
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U.S. Customs and Border Protection has begun construction of eight Remote Video Surveillance Systems in the Detroit Sector, expanding SBInet, CBP’s initiative to enhance the use of technology in fighting illegal cross-border activity.

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A CBP Border Patrol Agent operates a remote camera system. (Photo: James Tourtellotte/CBP)

The Northern Border Project will provide RVSS capabilities on the U.S. side of the Detroit and Buffalo Border Patrol Sectors using technology already in use along the Southwest Border.

“The Northern Border Project technology deployment will provide immediate capability to help Border Patrol Agents expand their ability to detect, identify, classify, respond to and resolve illegal cross border activity,” said Secure Border Initiative Executive Director Mark Borkowski. “At the same time, this deployment will provide lessons learned that will enable CBP to design better-tailored, longer-term technology options for the Northern Border.”

Each RVSS system is comprised of a total of four cameras—two day and two night cameras. On the Northern Border, the Buffalo Sector deployed remote video surveillance cameras along the Lower Niagara River in 2003 and began construction on an additional five towers earlier this year. This phase of the Northern Border Project will expand that technology along the St. Clair River, from Lake Huron to Lake St. Clair covering approximately 35 miles of a mix of urban, residential, commercial and riverine environments.

The deployment of technology along the Northern Border is part of a larger border security strategy that assists CBP frontline officers and agents. SBInet is the component of SBI charged with developing and installing technology solutions to help gain effective control of the nation’s borders.

The Buffalo and Detroit RVSS deployments along the Northern Border are planned to conclude in early 2010.

Along the U.S.-Mexico border, SBInet envisions completing the Arizona deployments in 2011 or 2012 and nearly all the Southwest border in 2014, depending on funding.

Key to the effective use of tower-mounted cameras and sensors, linked by microwave, are centers where CPB agents can oversee a “common operating picture,” or COP.

It’s the use of that COP as a force multiplier that officials say is a major distinguishing feature of SBInet over earlier use of remote cameras. Whereas traditional systems get response only from agents actually watching monitors, the COP includes systems—unattended ground sensors, radar and day and night cameras—that will automatically speak with one another, tracking incidents and alerting agents when necessary.

In April, CBP announced a $20 million deal with Boeing to begin implementation on the Northern Border. Boeing is also the main contractor on the U.S.-Mexico part of SBInet.


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The U.S. Department of Homeland Security had “a reasonable level of engineering confidence” in the SBInet technology to give the go-ahead to begin the buildout.

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