Virtual fence, redux

Nextgov reports here on the Department of Homeland Security’s revamped solicitation for bids to build a virtual fence using sensor-studded towers along the southern border. It’s DHS’ second attempt after the billion dollar fiasco that Janet Napolitano had to pull the plug on in January 2011.

Of note on this solicitation: common sense language that there will be no contract if bids seem to be ineffective or high-risk is replaced in the updated bid solicitation with softer language that ineffective or high-risk proposals may or may not win the contract. “High-risk” in this context means anything requiring new technology or new building. The idea is to put together, using existing technology, a system that can do the following:

  • Detect and track humans traveling on foot (alone and in groups), humans traveling on animals (alone and in groups), and moving ground conveyances (such as ATVs, motorcycles, automobiles,and trucks);
  • Report detections in near real-time;
  • Provide near real-time video upon request; and
  • Provide location of incident.

Additionally, the contractor needs to provide a system for storing, retrieving and exporting data in order to “facilitate on-going operations, post-event intelligence activities, law enforcement activities, and legal proceedings.”

Skip ahead to page 13 of the RFP for an example of the kind of thing this multi-million (?) billion (?) dollar project will be asked to do.

Update: NextGov interview with CBP officials describes how the CBP worked with industry for 18 months to figure out what could be done with available products, and then wrote the specs of the RFP to match.

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