Along a 28-mile stretch of U.S./Mexican border near Sasabe, a Boeing Co.-led team of private contractors will implement an eight-month pilot project to begin to determine the efficiency of building a "virtual fence." "Project 28" is a $67m surveillance landscape prototype, where the Border Patrol will install tower-mounted sensors, cameras, radars and satellite communication, to serve as the testing ground for the Department of Homeland Security's latest high-tech border security strategy. Boeing won the contract to manage the Secure Border Initiative and bridge existing techno-military infrastructure. This sector of Tucson, which appears to jutt into the Tohono O'odham Reservation, was selected because it's been the nation's busiest corridor for illegal entrant traffic since 1998. The purpose is to determine whether an actual fence can be avoided.
[Image: A Border Patrol skywatch tower is atop a ridge with the Sasabe port of entry in the background. Photo by Dean Knuth / Arizona Daily Star.]
However, nearby, the good old Minutemen are busy erecting their own double layered fance, with supposed technology that has never been seen in the U.S., originally developed for the Korean DMZ. They claim their security fence will tap the internet with live video imagery and even email or call you on your cell when an intrusion has been detected in your area. All this sounds similar to the Texas Virtual Neighborhood Border Watch Program which recently kicked off by streaming live video feeds from surveillance cams so that internet users at home could virtually patrol the boder.
[Image: Inside the Border Patrol, photo by Melina Mara for the Washington Post.]
It's the participatory panopticon in full effect at the border. Soon, they will be promoting Adopt-a-Drone programs where little kids can steer their own personal spy balloons instead of flying kites in the hot desert wind. Remote-controlled UAV's will begin to look even more like toys and evict local bird populations from the sky. Even though President Bush's 'Operation TIPS' program failed, which would have converted a million spies out of "letter carriers, utility workers and others whose jobs allow them access to private homes", a whole new breed of stay-home mommies will soon trade the drama of Another World and Days of Our Lives for this hot new sultry soap - BorderWatch. Entire cliché story lines will be woven into the inately boring past times of interactive border spying. A cast of sun-bronzed Border Patrol agents, freedom-rockin' vigilantes, scar-faced cartels and coyotes, some fat ranchers with sexy daughters, will all pick up new acting contracts and become primetime supserstars over night. Neighbors will gossip about the hot steamy love affairs their border cowboys will have with sexy border crossers. Soon, every municipality will have it's own hot new border soap.
And for the kids who would rather ditch school or stay up super late, it will only be a matter of time before staring at the border will be made into some action packed handheld multiplayer game with suped up ATC's poppin' crazy stunts back and forth over the fence, all the while detecting smuggler tunnels, busting drug rings, and leading illegals back across the border. For the more meditative single player hero type, a tetris-like game of fence hole repair will come preinstalled on a new PSP developed by Sony and Boeing, that will plug holes against flood leaks of migrant workers, while also allowing players to tag precise coordinates of actual breached fence locations on a massive real time game map shared with the Army Corps of Engineers.
Beware, a brand new industry of Border Enforcement Entertainment is about to emerge.
Previously: The Panoptic Arcade & Virtual Police State