Wednesday, March 17, 2010

12 foot fence, 14 foot ladder

So let me get this straight. Internet-enabled security cameras are cheap. I can go in to Fry's Electronics and buy a handful of them for a few hundred bucks. Point-to-point Internet radio connections capable of hopping 20-30 miles are a bit more expensive, but not by much -- the biggest cost is the cost of the tower, not the cost of the gear for the point-to-point connection. Software to view security cameras over the Internet comes with most Internet security cameras, I have a box here in the office full of the cameras and the software to drive them. Of course, then you have some serious issues of usability. You've seen security cam footage on the evening news. It sucks. Identifying that people are coming across the border isn't simple. But still, it's better than the current situation, where nobody is watching at all.

In short, I and a few of my office-buddies, together with a tower erection company, could put up a bunch of towers and poles with cameras along the border for probably around $2000 per pole and $500,000 per tower (one tower can serve a bunch of poles, assuming you're using cantennas on the poles to talk to the towers, which then are tall enough to talk to the next tower in line until you reach someplace where you can tap in to landlines). Figure we could do 100 miles of border with about 50 towers and 1000 poles, or a total of around $50 million if we're going to make sufficient profit to make doing it worthwhile :). So why, then, has Boeing burnt $1.4 *BILLION* on this project, for just 28 miles of coverage? And why was Boeing allowed to continue burning money on this project for over two years after we knew the project was failed, before Homeland Security *finally* cut them off?

The fact of the matter is that a "virtual fence" is no better than a real one. If you build a 12 foot fence, people will simply haul a 14 foot ladder to the border. If you build a virtual fence, people-smugglers will simply storm the towers and disable them faster than the Border Patrol can have them fixed. Our border with Mexico is simply too long to secure in any effective manner. Perhaps we should just annex Mexico so that we'd have a shorter southern border to defend down in Central America. I mean, what's the difference between Mexico and Mississippi, in the end, other than that Mississippi is run by white people and Mexico is run by brown people? Oh wait....

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

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