EL PASO, Texas (Border Report) — The U.S. Border Patrol has deployed a new cost-effective tool that could not only detect migrants entering the U.S. illegally but possibly save their lives.
A pair of Autonomous Surveillance Towers (AST) will provide surveillance and detection capabilities for border agents in the El Paso Sector.
The towers are solar-powered and can relocate to high-traffic areas. The AST scans its surrounding area and uses radar to detect movement. It then orients a camera to the location of the movement and analyzes the imagery using algorithms to autonomously identify items of interest, such as people or vehicles. Agents can then determine if they suspect a threat and need to respond.
In addition to the two towers in the Santa Teresa Station, the Border Patrol eventually plans to deploy another 13 sector-wide. Border officials are currently collaborating with stakeholders to determine the best locations for the towers.
“The record number of migrants attempting to cross our border illegally poses a challenge to securing our nation’s borders,” said U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the parent agency of Border Patrol. “This type of autonomous surveillance technology allows agents to effectively identify and locate migrants entering illegally into the United States.
CBP said the ASTs are mobile and can be rapidly deployed and relocated with minimal impact on the environment. Agents also tout their accuracy with detection, which officials believe will save migrant lives in our West Texas and New Mexico region.
“Autonomous Surveillance Towers are just one piece of the overall effort to identify and classify who and what is entering the United States illegally between the Ports of Entry,” said El Paso Sector Chief Patrol Agent Gloria I. Chavez said in a statement. “El Paso Sector is one of the sectors along the Southwest border benefitting from autonomous technology increasing our Border Patrol agents’ capabilities to more effectively secure our borders — these ASTs are a step in the right direction toward that purpose.”