DHS Soliciting Virtual Border Again
April 25, 2012

TUCSON, Ariz. -- The Department of Homeland Security has begun soliciting contractors for a system of five border security towers it wants to put in place in Nogales, Ariz.

Customs and Border Protection intends to buy five towers equipped with ground radars and surveillance cameras in Arizona. The basic idea is to remotely man the towers so that someone in a control room can watch a broad swath of border.

The program sounds a lot like the Strategic Border Initiative, the failed government program that cost more than $1 billion before Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano scrapped it in 2011.

But CBP official Mark Borkowski says it’s a much less ambitious system.

"As we were building SBINet, we had industry and representatives of the Department of Defense coming to us and saying why are you doing that, why are you trying to create something that has all of those bells and whistles. The basic stuff you need is just cameras and radars," Borkowski said.

Borkowski says the contracts should be awarded by October.