CBP Wants An Eye In the Sky—Or Wherever—To Spot Everything Crossing the U.S. Border

Three migrants who had managed to evade the Mexican National Guard and cross the Rio Grande onto U.S. territory walk along a border wall set back from the geographical border, in El Paso, Texas, as seen from Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, in July.

Three migrants who had managed to evade the Mexican National Guard and cross the Rio Grande onto U.S. territory walk along a border wall set back from the geographical border, in El Paso, Texas, as seen from Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, in July. Christian Chavez/AP

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The single solution should be able to detect anything crossing the northern or southern borders between ports of entry and immediately alert border patrol agents.

The Customs and Border Protection agency is looking for a single technology solution that is able to detect any movement across the U.S. border—whether on the ground, under the ground, in the air or by sea—and promptly alert security personnel.

CBP issued a solicitation seeking a linear ground detection system, or LGDS, able to “detect and identify all cross-border intrusions and threats without being affected by blind spots created by man-made and natural obstacles as they are traversing the international border between the designated ports of entry” along the U.S. borders with Mexico and Canada.

The agency is flexible on how the technology is deployed, either through an under- or above-ground installation, or an aerial or space-based detection system. Whatever the method, the system must be effective over any type of terrain and in any climate, and capable of covering the entire border to the north and south.

The system should be able to distinguish between three types of border crossers and return unique values for each: humans (numbers), animals (type and numbers) and vehicles (size and numbers).

The system should be able to detect those “items of interest” crossing the border with an accuracy rate of 85%, though 95% is ideal. Once detected, the system should be able to send an audible and visual alert to CBP operators within a maximum of three seconds, though the goal is less than two seconds.

“The solution—one solution—should be able to distinguish between different [items of interest] human, vehicle, fence climbing including air vehicle and other conveyance methods used to attempt crossing of the U.S. border,” contracting officers wrote in response to industry questions.

The solution also has to be interoperable with other CBP systems and “capable of interfacing with third-party command and control systems,” according to the solicitation.

CBP is using the department’s Commercial Solutions Opening authority, an alternative procurement method currently being piloted by the Homeland Security Department and the General Services Administration. Like other alternative acquisition authorities, CSO focuses on speed of procurement, iterative funding and getting bleeding-edge, innovative technologies into government.

“All proposed solutions must clearly demonstrate how the commercial item is offered in an innovative manner,” the solicitation states, citing the legislation greenlighting CSO procurement, which defines innovation as “any new technology, process or method, including research and development, or any new application of an existing technology, process or method.”

The contract is expected to last 12 months, though that could be extended depending on feedback during the proposal process.

Bids are due by 3 p.m. Aug. 1.