Rio not-so-Grande

Nick Wakeman

The first time I visited my brother in El Paso, Texas, we drove along the border on Interstate 10.

"There's Mexico," he said, pointing to the city of Juarez.

Between us and Mexico was the famous Rio Grande River, but for an Easterner raised on John Wayne westerns, the river was a disappointment. It is channeled by concrete, and running parallel to it on both sides are several rows of chain-link fence and razor wire.

That's the old way of securing our borders.

No one is suggesting that the fences come down, but a physical barrier just can't control the borders anymore, if it ever could.

The Homeland Security Department believes that what is needed is a high-tech solution, one that includes cameras, sensors and networks. But as Staff Writer Alice Lipowicz explains in her cover story on the Secure Border Initiative, the department has drawn a broad vision, and now it is up to the competing contractors to propose ways to achieve it.

The competition appears to be coming down to four or five teams, with one led by Ericsson Inc., a newcomer as a prime in the U.S. government market. The company proudly calls itself a dark horse in the competition, but it does similar work in Europe.

Sticking with the newcomer theme, our second front-page story features a curtain raiser on the strategy coming from Bechtel Corp. The company hired long-time government telecommunications executive James Payne to lead a new unit. In an interview with Staff Writer Roseanne Gerin, Payne explains how he wants to grow Bechtel's IT and telecom business by concentrating on wireless and infrastructure protection solutions.

Lastly, check out the photo of the happy group of folks in our Datastream section.

Washington Technology won a national award, the Jesse H. Neal National Business Journalism Award, from American Business Media for one of our 2005 issues. We're mighty proud, as they might say along the Rio Grande.

About the Author

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

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