Past Features

June 15, 2017

U.S. Border Patrol unaware of
non-profit's pioneering drone work

Screen grab of this Web page
Glenn Spencer -- June 15, 2017
U.S. Border Patrol spokesman ignorant of my work with drones
    In a recent newspaper report, a spokesman for the U.S. Border Patrol was asked about my work with unmanned aerial vehicles, or drones.
    Spencer has sent his proposal to the government multiple times without any luck.
    But, it could be because Border Patrol is already using similar technology --- it has been for decades, according to Agent Daniel Hernandez, a public information officer with Tucson Sector Border Patrol.
    Hernandez has been an agent for seven years and said sensor and drone technology was around long before he started...
    In a May 23, 2003, AP story in the Sierra Vista Herald, Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge says "We are seriously looking at UAV for both border application and land and sea."
    This followed on the heels of a series of reports of ABP's Border Hawk UAV that began on April 30, 2003, and included a May 16 demonstration on Lester Holt Live.
    I can find no reference to the use of drones for the border by the Department of Homeland Security until after I developed and demonstrated the concept with ABP's Border Hawk.
    The U.S. Border Patrol was not using drone technology until I showed them how it could be done.
    But they still didn't listen. Instead of small $5,000 drones linked to ground sensors, DHS/CBP went with the $18 million Predator UAV, which, as reported by Bob Ortega of the Arizona Republic, turned out to be a big mistake.
    
Ortega observed: Industry insiders and security analysts say that alternatives to the drones get short shrift because the government's contracting and acquisition system tilts towards large military contractors whose heavy lobbying can define contracts in ways that favor them.-- "People with lobbying access can define the requirements that determine the contract," said Brian Whiteside, a pilot who has worked with several aerial-surveillance companies. "It's lead time, networks, connections, access; if you're a small business, you're not going to survive."

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