SBInet to undergo architectural improvements

The next phase of the SBInet border surveillance system will focus on the development of an enterprise architecture to integrate all elements of the complex system, said Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff.

Those elements include updated software and systems for mobile surveillance, aerial surveillance and communications. Deployment of the information technology architecture will begin this year in Arizona, Chertoff told the House Judiciary Committee April 10.

The goal is to build on the strengths of the initial Project 28 segment of SBInet along 28 miles of the Arizona/Mexico border, he said.

"We are building upon lessons learned to develop a new borderwide architecture that will incorporate upgraded software, mobile surveillance systems, unattended ground sensors, unmanned and manned aviation assets, and an improved communication system to enable better connectivity and system performance," Chertoff said.

"This is Block 1 of our SBInet technology and will be deployed this year to two sites in Arizona," he added.

Customs and Border Protection accepted the first phase of Project 28 in February. For that phase, Boeing Co. installed nine mobile towers outfitted with cameras and sensors and connected them to Border Patrol computer systems.

According to media reports, SBInet officials told Arizona community members April 10 that the mobile towers will be replaced with permanent ones. Other sources said Customs and Border Protection has issued, or is about to issue, additional task orders for SBInet work. That information could not be immediately confirmed.

In his recent testimony, Chertoff offered additional details on technologies to be deployed at the borders. The department is acquiring a fourth unmanned aerial system, with plans to have six unmanned aerial vehicles operational by Sept. 30. One of those UAVs will patrol the northern border.

The department is also acquiring 2,500 unattended ground sensors this fiscal year, with 1,500 of them planned for deployment on the northern border and 1,000 on the southwest border. They will supplement the more than 7,500 ground sensors currently in operation, Chertoff 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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