Northern Border Security Goes High TechMarch 24, 2011 - 10:44 AM | by: Marla Cichowski
SELFRIDGE AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE – The U.S .Department of Homeland Security unveiled its newest high-tech tool today to fight terrorism and secure America’s northern border.
The Operational Integration Center, referred to as OIC, allows security analysts to monitor a critical part of the Northern border 24/7 relying on cameras and radars along the St. Clair River separating Michigan from Canada.
The $12 million OIC facility features a 30 foot video panel to watch various sections of the Northern border. Real time video feeds into the OIC’s situational awareness room from 11 towers equipped with high-tech cameras and radars built along 35 miles of the St. Clair River.
The towers are the result of a $20 million investment in technology as part of the Department of Homeland Security’s Secure Border Initiative.
U.S. Border Patrol’s Special Operations Supervisor, Gregory Lambert managed the 13-month surveillance tower project. He says the technology is already paying off.
“Instead of having a camera and operator looking at a screen all day for eight hours, now we have a radar working with the cameras to tell that operator, ‘Hey. There’s something going on over here,” he says.
The Northern border accounts for nearly 4,000 miles of land and water between the U.S. and Canada. A recent report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) reveals only 32 miles of the border, just one percent, had an “acceptable level of control.”
Border protection officials admit there is room for improvement, but this latest technology is a major step forward.
“We are continuing to beef up our efforts on the northern border and eventually we will get to a point where we have a lot more mileage that is secured. I think I’m comfortable saying we are a long way from where we were, we have a ways to go and we’ll get there, ” Lambert says.
In 2010, US Border Patrol made more than 7,400 arrests along the Northern Border. Nearly 1,700 arrests took place along the 863 miles that make up the Detroit Sector, which is the largest of the northern border’s eight sectors.
Watch our exclusive video to see how the new camera technology along the U.S. northern border actually works.