SBInet reaches a turning point

Few would dispute that there are problems securing the United States'
borders. And the country seems to be of two minds on how we regain
control. A low-tech approach uses steel and concrete, while a high-tech
approach relies on satellite imagery, unmanned aerial vehicles and remote
sensors.

Two years into the SBInet, the nation doesn't have much to show for it. The
government is spending hundreds of millions of dollars to build a real fence and
a virtual one. There have been delays and failures. Homeland Security
Department officials have spent countless hours on Capitol Hill defending the
program. Prime contractor Boeing Co. has had to explain technology choices
and fight a public relations battle.

Too often, SBInet has seemed destined to land on a list of failed and costly
programs.

However, as staff writer Alice Lipowicz explains in her SBInet special report,
the high-tech virtual fence might be reaching a turning point, and it is a turn in
the right direction.

Part of this is because of new DHS leadership for the program. Boeing also
has taken advantage of delays to work out kinks in the technologies it is using
and in its development and implementation processes. Lipowicz spoke with DHS
and Boeing leaders about their progress and the challenges ahead.

2009 will be a watershed year for the program. DHS has to decide whether
to extend Boeing's contract, and Boeing has to earn that extension.

About the Author

Nick Wakeman is the editor-in-chief of Washington Technology. Follow him on Twitter: @nick_wakeman.

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