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Homeland Security abandons 'virtual fence' prototype along US-Mexico border

[JURIST] The US government has abandoned a prototype "virtual fence" [JURIST report] along the US-Mexico border [GlobalSecurity backgrounder] after the system failed to perform up to expectations, according to Wednesday media reports. The prototype fence, which consists of nine unmanned towers equipped with radar, sensors and cameras along a 28-mile stretch of the US-Mexico border, was too slow in alerting border agents to illegal crossings. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Officials said that Boeing [corporate website], the technology's creator, will replace the fence with a series of towers outfitted with new cameras and enhanced radar capability. AP has more.

The virtual fence was part of the Secure Border Initiative [DHS fact sheet] developed to control illegal immigration and drug smuggling. DHS laid out its plans to put up a virtual fence [JURIST report] along the US borders with Canada and Mexico in September 2006 and announced that Boeing had been awarded a $67 million contract [Boeing press release] to begin the project. Computer software glitches had delayed the testing and use of the fence [AP report] until Boeing largely fixed the problems [DHS press release] in early December 2007; DHS gave final approval [JURIST report] to the prototype in February.

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