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We Want You...To Watch the Border

Governor of Texas Rick Perry (R) is proposing an idea that will allow web users to "patrol" the Texas/Mexico border on the internet.

A US state is to enlist web users in its fight against illegal immigration by offering live surveillance footage of the Mexican border on the internet.


The plan will allow web users worldwide to watch Texas' border with Mexico and phone the authorities if they spot any apparently illegal crossings.

Texas Governor Rick Perry said the cameras would focus on "hot-spots and common routes" used to enter the US...

...The Texas governor announced his plans for streaming the border surveillance camera footage over the internet at a meeting of police officials on Thursday.

"A stronger border is what Americans want and it's what our security demands and that is what Texas is going to deliver," Mr Perry said.

The cameras will cost $5m (£2.7m) to install and will be trained on sections of the 1,000-mile (1,600km) border known to be favoured by illegal immigrants.

Web users who spot an apparently illegal crossing will be able to alert the authorities by telephoning a number free of charge.

I don't quite see how this will work. How is the internet user supposed to tell the border patrol where the illegal crossers are? I'm assuming that in addition to the cameras, markers will also be installed. Otherwise could you imagine the phone calls: "Border Patrol? There are about a dozen illegals crossing the Rio Grande. They're between the tumbleweed and the cactus. Go pick 'em up"

I have to give the governor credit for being creative.

Additional thoughts: Alright, enough with my jokes. This idea really does sound interesting. And since the streaming video will be available to not just Americans but to everyone around the world, it could be effective. I'm assuming that when a person goes to the site, each shot will have its own indentification, so a person calling in can give the camera's ID number to the Border Patrol.


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Comments (40)

Obviously a camera will be ... (Below threshold)
JSchuler:

Obviously a camera will be covering a very limited area of the border. Therefore, all that should be required is for each camera to have a unique ID which the user will read to the operator. In essence, the camera itself will be the marker.

Kim, I think you're missing... (Below threshold)
ted:

Kim, I think you're missing the point here focusing on some technicalities. The real thrust is that millions and millions of Americans are being brought in on this, and coupling this with other modern technology, gis, etc, this is going to literally transform border patrol.

Kudos to Governor Perry, who seems to be a contender for GOP VP nominee in '08

And kudos to President Bush... (Below threshold)
ted:

And kudos to President Bush who essentially has allowed space for the GOP with people like Perry to differentiate themselves from Bush and triangulate and confound the Dems from claiming GOP xenophobia on the issue of illegal immigration.

I would not be so difficult... (Below threshold)

I would not be so difficult for each camera to carry some sort of an identification number and for that number to be superimposed on the video feed from that camera. A person monitoring that camera would call in and say "I am monitoring camera number 528 and I see someone attempting to cross". They authorities would know where camera number 528 is and would be able to respond.

This sounds like an admirab... (Below threshold)
Jumpinjoe:

This sounds like an admirable idea, however this sounds as exciting as counting sand.

Maybe viewers can receive points for spotting illegals and redeem them for cash or prizes.

Maybe some people can form clubs like the "Lonely Hearts Illegal Spotters Club".

There's some potential with some creative thinking.

My guess is that this propo... (Below threshold)
Lee:

My guess is that this proposal will never actually get off the ground. We all know what will/would happen...vigilantes will use the surveillance to learn the whereabouts of illegals, and then go out in their pick-em-up trucks to hunt them down.

Perry should be applauded for making an effort, but I think this one will be a little difficult to implement effectively.

I had this in the body of t... (Below threshold)
Kim:

I had this in the body of the post but moved it to the comments section because it seemed to be the more appropriate spot.

Jumpinjoe makes a good point:

Maybe viewers can receive points for spotting illegals and redeem them for cash or prizes.


Maybe some people can form clubs like the "Lonely Hearts Illegal Spotters Club".

There's some potential with some creative thinking.

How about if the Border Patrol installs obstacle courses. Someone could do a little play-by-play announcing. "Oh! #10 just took a dive in the mud pit!"

Yeah, Lee....all of us knuc... (Below threshold)
Old Coot:

Yeah, Lee....all of us knuckle-dragging conservatives are just itching to "hunt down" those illegals. Probably then hang them from the nearest tree whilst signing redneck songs and swilling beer. Son, you are an asshat of the first order.

This could be turned agains... (Below threshold)
jpm100:

This could be turned against the border patrol

For one, false alarms could be easily generated to waste time.

Also, this could reveal border patrol search patterns.

And of course the ACLU would love to catch a scuffle on camera.

Why is everybody so negativ... (Below threshold)
ted:

Why is everybody so negative about this?

Hmmm.1. This is an... (Below threshold)
ed:

Hmmm.

1. This is an interesting concept that I'd like to see happen just for the hell of it.

2. You'd do this probably through a website.

3. The web page with a specific camera would have the camera ID encoded in the web page.

4. A very simple process would require the viewer to simply click a button when/if they see an illegal trying to cross.

5. A simple double-check would be for an operator to switch to any camera view where a user has triggered the alarm.

6. If a user has triggered many false alarms, i.e. no confirmations, then that user is booted from the system.

7. Trusted users could be employed virtually as online operators.

8. The Border Patrol agents could have laptops equipped with wireless broadband and be able to switch to the camera view of any camera that has a confirmed illegal alien.

...

In pure technical terms this could easily work. It would work better with a triple fence system. But if you've got a system of wide-view cameras this could also work with a single fence.

I seriously doubt it would work well without any fence at all. But it would be possible for Border Patrol agents to track down anyone getting through by getting the starting point at the border to begin the search.

Has anyone alerted Glenn Re... (Below threshold)
Jay Tea:

Has anyone alerted Glenn Reynolds about another excuse to plug his "Army Of Davids" book with this story?

J.

Gee Lee, just like the Minu... (Below threshold)
SCSIwuzzy:

Gee Lee, just like the Minutemen, actually on patrol, have been capping mexicans left and right.
Wait a minute. That never happened.

As Chance the Gardener once... (Below threshold)

As Chance the Gardener once said, "I like to watch."

Yep time to send the old Ge... (Below threshold)
virgo:

Yep time to send the old General Lee down to chase the illegal's back thru the cactus field's of Texas, and We get to watch it all happen on internet camera's and blog at the same time Yippee..

If a user has triggered ... (Below threshold)

If a user has triggered many false alarms, i.e. no confirmations, then that user is booted from the system.

I wouldn't boot them. What I would do is for each false alarm they generate, their input is weighted less. At some point their input becomes irrelevent but they won't be aware of it. If you boot them, they know they have hit the "irrelevence" point and they could log in with a different user id and continute to torment the system. Each "good" hit would up a person's report "weight" and each false alarm would reduce it. Very simple to do in software. The user would generally be unaware of their "score" unless they were selected as a "verifyer".

There is no reason why citizen volunteers couldn't be brought into the system. The volunteers would have no idea where the cameras are located, you don't even need to asign them in order. Camera 241 could be between cameras 824 and 427. You would have no idea where a camera is located and you can "reshuffle" camera numbers any time you want through software. Once piece of desert looks pretty much like any other.

There are a lot of technologies that have been built for military use that can be deployed on the border. Unattended electronic sensors could be solar powered and can tell humans from animals from vehicles. Radar can spot people. Infrared is useful at night and "milimeter wave" technologies cut through rain, darkness, fog, and smoke.

I doubt it will ever come to pass, though, because there are a lot of people making a lot of money off the way things are right now. Ensuring a free flow of billions of dollars in drug money is a major big deal and if border enhancements start cutting into the flow of that, expect to see sabotage and outright destruction of border defences.

Of course, what would truly... (Below threshold)

Of course, what would truly make this successful, for at least one season, would be to make it a new Reality TV show - in fact, they could probably work out a deal with TeleMundo so that "Who Wants to be an Illegal Immigrant" could face off with "Ted Nugent's Border Patrol."


And if Ted isn't available, maybe Chuck Norris could do Border Patrol and witness at the same time.

Folks, if you are American,... (Below threshold)

Folks, if you are American, Defence is what we need to build at deBorder. And Defense comes after Department of.

If you are British, Defence is like colour, a way to differentiate your spelling from the Yanks.

If they do it right, this c... (Below threshold)

If they do it right, this could be a better screensaver than this SETI @ Home...

I think what will frustrate... (Below threshold)
Candy:

I think what will frustrate the Nintendo Generation is the ability to SEE the target, but no way to SHOOT AT the target.

I like the idea of making i... (Below threshold)
Tim:

I like the idea of making it a video game. Put a small laser on it and play "shoot the alien" (using a small shock of course) You could even have competitions with other cams.

if they'll put some cameras... (Below threshold)
jab:

if they'll put some cameras between El Indio, AND Roma, there should be some outstanding wildlife shots along with mexicans, too, and if they would corn the senderos, there would be animals in the pictures all the time.

Hmmmm.I w... (Below threshold)
ed:

Hmmmm.

I wouldn't boot them. What I would do is for each false alarm they generate, their input is weighted less.

That is a much better solution overall.

I like the idea, in princip... (Below threshold)
brainy435:

I like the idea, in principle, but consider:

We are spending $5 million dollars for undefended electronics that will be left in open desert and announced to the whole world. I bet these things get destroyed in their first month of operation. Even if you could protect the camera, the power source will likely be vulnerable. This reminds me of the traffic cameras they have in England. It's been awhile since I last heard of this, but for awhile groups of people were going out and destroying these cameras in very inventive ways at a pretty high cost. And the cameras we're proposing probably wouldn't generate any revenue to replace them like a traffic camera would. Unless there were some kick-ass Google Ads on their associated websites, or something...

At the very least, this wil... (Below threshold)
mesablue:

At the very least, this will allow people around the country to see for themselves how bad the problem is at our southern borders.

If, day after day and week after week, images of illegals streaming across the border go unmet by response from the border patrol or our politicians in congress -- the American public will force a change.

This is a great idea.

Kim,Neither camera... (Below threshold)
JohnMc:

Kim,

Neither cameras or drones have EVER arrested anyone! This is high tech foolishness.

However there is one use I could see for this little hitech adventure. I would suggest we take up a collection for two 60" plasma TVs. We mount them either side of the VP's chair in the Senate. And those two screens display the illegals crossing the border in all their glory.

If nothing else works, maybe we should try shame.

It's a great idea, but the ... (Below threshold)
kbiel:

It's a great idea, but the execution needs a lot of work. Unfortunately, the state will be placing and maintaining the cameras, but the reports will go to the CBP, hence the need for a spotter to call in instead of clicking a button or something. If the CBP would implement some web based reporting service then the state could implement a better system to help reduce false reports and eliminate pro-illegal immigration saboteurs.

Candy,I t... (Below threshold)
JohnMc:

Candy,

I think what will frustrate the Nintendo Generation is the ability to SEE the target, but no way to SHOOT AT the target.

Easy solution to that, mount that camera on top of a SAW that is mounted to a PS2 base that can be controlled by the home user. Everybody wins but the illegal.

Another possibility is that... (Below threshold)
Lee:

Another possibility is that you'll have teenagers reporting false alarms left and right, or smugglers will report false alarms to divert resources to one area, as they smuggle people across from somewhere else.

It'll never fly Orville.

Hmmmm.Ano... (Below threshold)
ed:

Hmmmm.

Another possibility is that you'll have teenagers reporting false alarms left and right, or smugglers will report false alarms to divert resources to one area, as they smuggle people across from somewhere else.

That's actually already been addressed.

Hmmmmm.... (Below threshold)
Lee:

Hmmmmm.

That's actually already been addressed.

Addressing a problem isn't the same as solving it. Try tracing an AOL user, and there are lots of ways for a user to be "not traceable" on the internet. There are just too many ways to trick fool and subvert this system to make it viable.

Just take it off the internet, staff a control room with "X" number of US soliders, and do it correctly.

It's a nice idea, but there are just too many holes in it to make it workable on a volunteer/Internet basis.

SCSIwuzzy said:... (Below threshold)
Lee:

SCSIwuzzy said:

Gee Lee, just like the Minutemen, actually on patrol, have been capping mexicans left and right.
Wait a minute. That never happened.

I didn't say that Minutemen had been doing that, but I've lived in Texas, and I know the Texan mentality, and I assure you that if you give everyday Texans the tools to perform law enforcement on their own, without any supervision or oversight, there will be abuses.

Your bigotry is showing aga... (Below threshold)
SCSIwuzzy:

Your bigotry is showing again, Lee.
What is stopping those same trigger happy Texans from going down to the border and popping off rounds now? It's not like the popular border crossings aren't already well known...

Hey, Guys! Has any of you o... (Below threshold)
harrycuz:

Hey, Guys! Has any of you or your friends already decided to participate this program?

This is pitiful watching pe... (Below threshold)
Thomas:

This is pitiful watching people shoot ideas right out of the sky without trying it out and working out the kinks. I think they should invest even more money into this project.Everyone who hates this idea should post solutions on this issue besides being passive and critical.

Hmmmm.Add... (Below threshold)
ed:

Hmmmm.

Addressing a problem isn't the same as solving it. Try tracing an AOL user, and there are lots of ways for a user to be "not traceable" on the internet. There are just too many ways to trick fool and subvert this system to make it viable.

sigh. Look Lee you're trying to work this, but it's not happening.

Read the article. The system is basically a network of webcams that anybody can view with a web browser. If you want to report a crossing then you call a 1-800 number.

Unless you're planning on calling that number from payphones, something that they could block easily if it became a problem, then you *are* providing positive contact information because you'll be providing your phone number.

And I seriously doubt any of the caller-id blocking technology would affect this system because it's being run by the state of Texas. In effect it would be similar to the 9-11 system.

So AOL user name or email address is irrelevant.

Hmmm.As someone ha... (Below threshold)
ed:

Hmmm.

As someone has already pointed out this system is good because it offers the average American an opportunity to see for themselves the problems extent on the border.

when does it start cant wai... (Below threshold)
you:

when does it start cant wait itll be my fav. game spot the mexican

THAT IS A GREAT IDEA. ID WA... (Below threshold)

THAT IS A GREAT IDEA. ID WATCH THE BORDER LIKE ALL THE TIME, LOL. DOES IT COST? AND WHEN IS IT GOING TO START?

I love the cash and prizes ... (Below threshold)
David:

I love the cash and prizes idea! You people should run the government.




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