The importance of border controls for countries is well known. Such measures allow nations to regulate movement of goods, people and animals. Here, we look at what new technology is being introduced to help assist border control forces with their very important work…
D3S wearable RIID
These nuclear detectors, created by international technology group and leading developer of high-performance radiation detection products that are based on cadmium zinc telluride, Kromek, this pocket-sized device has already been deployed by the New Jersey Port Authority and followed the President of the United States on one of his trips to Europe.
It’s said to be more powerful than a standard RIID — which stands for Radiation Isotope Identification Device. This gadget is designed to detect radiological threats such as radioactive contamination, dirty bombs, radiation at the scene of an accident or a terrorist attack, and the smuggling of radioactive substances.
However, what makes this wearable RIID truly stand out is the fact that it’s an unobtrusive and hands-free tech piece. Simply turn the detector on and then launch the accompanying app on your smartphone and the gadget will continuously scan for radiation without anyone needing to see it in operation or potential suspects to get suspicious — any alert of radiation can be picked up by your phone either sending an announcement into your earbud or simply vibrating.
Kromek stated: “Armed with the D3S wearable RIID, you are a walking gamma and neutron detector, able to detect even shielded sources and identify the isotopes used.”
Drones and holographic printers
VICE made reference of a company called Zebra Imaging, when reporting from the Tenth Annual Border Security Expo in San Antonio, Texas. This company was selling holographic printers priced at $1 million. According to the report, these machines were already being utilised at Border Control stations in El Paso, San Diego and Tucson — having initially been sold to the US military for use across Iraq and Afghanistan and producing some 14,000 images during missions throughout the Middle East.
According to a Zebra Imaging spokesperson, the technology can work either as an individual, or a drone taking an aerial photograph on the border of concern. That photo is then printed using the holographic printer, which can then be used to gain a better understanding of the landscape and to deploy effective missions if necessary.
The Director of Government Relations at Zebra Imaging, Rick Black, claimed: “Holograms do not save lives and they do not stop bullets, but what they do is give people a cognitive idea of what’s going on around them physically. We provide you that visual sense of presence — a hologram looks so natural, you think it’s a solid model. Your brain thinks it’s a full model even though you know intellectually it’s a light pad.”
According to the spokesperson, they can also be used as optimal training tools. This is because the immersive holographic images can function more effectively than either maps or models are able to. Mr Black underlined this point by showing a 3D image of some borderlands in Arizona at the San Antonio expo, complete with vivid mountains. “This provides a 360-degree full view,” Mr Black acknowledged. “It’s to give the agents a presence of where they are so if they’re doing a mission plan, for instance, when I point here you all know exactly where I’m pointing.”
The Internet of Things
If someone mentions IoT — or the Internet of Things — then you may think about switching on a lightbulb by using an app on a smartphone or controlling you home’s smart thermostat from the office. However, global management consulting and professional services firm Accenture has acknowledged that custom agencies can also be using IoT to enhance their operations.
As a case in point, they have used the Hamburg Port Authority in Germany. This is due to the organisation utilising the technology to improve how they monitor cargo and track journeys. Data is collected by the authority from sensors which are embedded into bridges, containers, roadways and vehicles, and then analysed. Once the analysis is complete, the findings can be delivered to officers remotely, as well as fed into schedules and assisting road authorities to channel traffic in more effective manners.
As well as this, any data from IoT operations is able to be used to help you look out for fraudulent cases, or other criminal activity. Accenture notes: “For instance, IoT can check whether cargo actually moves along the declared routes or detect potential tampering by tracking unexpected temperature changes in containers.”
With technology set to continue rapidly advancing, it will be interesting to discover what the next helpful innovation for border control forces will be.