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Report calls for focus on communications technology at US-Mexico border


February 16, 2011

According to a report released this week, integrating technologies, especially communications systems and infrastructure, along the U.S.-Mexico border is a critical, urgent and cost-effective imperative to improving security and trade and is the keystone of the border security operations structure.

Arizona State University’s North American Center for Transborder Studies (NACTS) conducted the report which identifies that securing the flow of people, goods and business between the two countries requires the integration and interconnectivity of vital communications technologies – a system of systems – among and between ports, check points, and law enforcement agencies along the border. The study also issued some key recommendations that can help to achieve that objective.

“Through extensive research and analysis, we found that by leveraging emerging technologies with existing infrastructure and personnel,  we can enhance border security and trade in a cost-effective manner that is beneficial to citizens in the United States and Mexico,” said Rick Van Schoik, NACTS director.  “Additionally if the federal government invests proportionally in integrating communications, relative to other border security investments, we can expect to see a vast improvement in security and trade in this region.”

The ASU study, commissioned by Motorola Solutions Inc. (NYSE: MSI), stresses that in order to halt illegal crossings and contraband while expediting commerce through ports of entry, it is mission critical for border field agents, to have immediate access to time-sensitive information and intelligence captured by new  technologies such as license plate readers, unattended ground sensors and biometric identification kits.  Further, the study pointed to emerging communication technologies such as broadband that can play an important role in creating this needed linkage.

The report emphasizes that investments that facilitate the connection of infrastructure, technology, and staff along the 1,969 miles of the U.S.-Mexico border must be a top priority for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Customs and Border Protection. The study also notes that when communications technologies are effectively planned and implemented, infrastructure and staffing currently in place can be linked together for a more robust and time- and cost-effective border security system.  Investment in communications and security efficiency at the ports of entry, in turn, acts as an economic driver in the region, creating jobs on both sides of the border and facilitating trade.

The full findings will be released Wednesday at the Border Security Expo when the author unveils the integrated findings and recommendations. Key recommendations and an executive summary of the report can be found at http://nacts.asu.edu/projects/technology-to-enhance-border-security-and-international-trade.