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Sequel to SBInet Coming Soon?

An SBInet tower, Photo: Boeing.com

In a high-profile move recently, the Department of Homeland Security canceled SBInet, a $1 billion border program, long under a microscope for underperforming.

But don’t count high-tech border surveillance programs out just yet.

The U.S. Customs and Border Protection last week issued a request for information from industry about “insight” into market conditions and scientific advances “that will aid in the formation of an acquisition strategy for technology solutions that track, identify and classify illegal incursions.”

According to the RFI posted on FedBizOpps, the plan calls for ideas about developing fixed towers that would provide automated, wide-area surveillance along the border.

“The capability sought would provide additional situational awareness and will allow CBP to more efficiently and effectively respond to border incursions where deployed,” the RFI states.

In announcing the cancellation of the SBInet program two weeks ago, DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano said, going forward, the department would focus on scaled-back versions of border surveillance “tailored to the distinct terrain and population density of each border region,” she said.

While the current RFI is just for information from contractors, DHS spokesman Matthew Chandler told Nextgov a formal request for bids could be issued later this year, and ultimately, a contract awarded.

“The RFI approach is one tool available to us to involve industry at an early stage in our process,” he said.

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