Ericsson SBI-Net vision stresses analytics

Wireless equipment provider Ericsson Inc.'s proposal for the massive Secure Border Initiative Network includes neither unmanned aerial vehicles nor facial recognition software, a senior Ericsson official told Washington Technology.

"UAVs are not 24/7/365. They are a gap filler," said Douglas Smith, executive vice president for government solutions.

Ericsson is promoting its experience operating a wireless sensor and camera surveillance system along the 200 kilometer border of Norway and Russia since 2003.

For SBI-Net, the Ericsson team intends to build a wireless broadband network along the U.S. borders. The network will be able to carry live video feeds, and will be used to talk and share data, Smith said. Ericsson will leverage its ability to quickly deploy the towers, cables and other infrastructure needed to create commercial cellular phone networks in the project.

Most details are under wraps, but Ericsson said its proposal includes video analytics, which use algorithms to help identify unusual events occurring in real time, and integrates the surveillance system with border control command and control centers and operational units.

The Homeland Security Department has received proposals from five federal contracting teams vying for the anticipated $2 billion contract to construct a comprehensive camera and sensor surveillance and communication system along the U.S. borders.

Ericsson, of Plano, Texas, has teamed with Computer Sciences Corp. of El Segundo, Calif. and other to compete against four, formidable teams led by Boeing Co., Lockheed-Martin Corp., Northrop Grumman Corp. and Raytheon Co.

The five teams submitted proposals May 30. The department will hold meetings with each of the bidders this summer, and an award is expected in September.

"We have a proven system that has the ability to be deployed rapidly," said Ben Gianni, vice president of homeland security for Computer Sciences.

While there has been speculation about the possibility of UAVs and facial recognition software being included, Ericsson and Computer Sciences officials said that their SBI-Net proposal includes neither. Facial recognition software for identifying an individual in a group or from a distance is considered an evolving technology that is not widely used in major applications.

In addition, Ericsson already has arranged to lease radio spectrum along the U.S. borders to be used in SBI-Net. It is commercial spectrum that is not being used, and will be available for SBI-Net border control agents and other authorized users only, Smith said.

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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