Posted on 12 November 2014.
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RCMP reveals details of its $92-million plan to erect a 700-kilometre surveillance fence along the Canada-U.S. border

Ian MacLeod, Postmedia News | November 4, 2014 | Last Updated: Nov 5 8:22 AM ET

Traffic makes its way to Ambassador Bridge that connects Canada to the United States in Windsor Ont., in 2012. A state-of-the-art surveillance system is planned to watch activity along the Canada-U.S. border, the RCMP told a major security conference in Ottawa on Tuesday.

OTTAWA — A massive intelligence-gathering network of RCMP video cameras, radar, ground sensors, thermal radiation detectors and more will be erected along the U.S.-Canada border in Ontario and Quebec by 2018, the Mounties said Tuesday.

The $92-million surveillance web, formally known as the Border Integrity Technology Enhancement Project, will be concentrated in more than 100 “high-risk” cross-border crime zones spanning 700 kilometres of eastern Canada, said Assistant Commissioner Joe Oliver, the RCMP’s head of technical operations.

“The concept involves employing unattended ground sensors, cameras, radar, licence plate readers, both covert and overt, to detect suspicious activity in high-risk areas along the border,” Assistant Commissioner Oliver told security industry executives attending the SecureTech conference and trade show at Ottawa’s Shaw Centre.

“What we’re hoping to achieve is a reduction in cross-border criminality and enhancement of our national security.”

The network of electronic eyes is to run along the Quebec-Maine border to Morrisburg, Ont., then along the St. Lawrence Seaway, across Lake Ontario, and ending just west of Toronto in Oakville.

The project was announced under the 2014 federal budget, but framed solely as a measure to improve the RCMP’s ability to combat contraband cigarette smuggling.

The network will be linked to a state-of-the-art “geospatial intelligence and automated dispatch centre” that will, among other things, integrate the surveillance data, issue alerts for high-probability targets, issue “instant imagery” to officers on patrol and produce predictive analysis reports.

“We do have [border surveillance] technologies deployed on a limited scale but … nothing in terms of the scale of this project,” Assistant Commissioner Oliver said in an interview. Unmanned drones will not be part of the high-tech arsenal.

The network is to be operational by 2017-18. Site surveys are now underway, procurement and implementation strategies are in development and operational requirements are being studied, he said.

The United States could eventually have access to the collected data. Assistant Commissioner Oliver added that with the potential sharing of information, privacy concerns would be paramount.

The various technologies required will be selected and installed with potential future interoperability with U.S. police and border officials in mind, he said. As Assistant Commissioner Oliver spoke, he was flanked by Mark Borkowski, assistant commissioner for the office of technology innovation and acquisition with U.S. Customs and Border Protection of the Department of Homeland Security.

“The fiscal and operational environment, the nimbleness of organized crime and the ongoing national security threats require that we explore new ways of deepening and strengthening collaboration,” said Assistant Commissioner Oliver.

“There are lots of opportunities to look at new ways of doing business. A threat to Canada is a threat to the U.S. and vice versa, so we operate in an environment where we’re trying to address shared threats.”

The Ontario-Quebec border with New York State is a key conduit for tobacco smugglers; experts agree smuggling generates hundreds of millions annually in black-market profits. Dozens of organized crime groups, big and small, from outlaw bikers and Italian mobsters to Vietnamese and Chinese gangs, use the same routes and infrastructure to move narcotics and illegal immigrants south into the U.S.

The fear is that terrorists could infiltrate the country by the same routes.

Some Mohawks have already condemned the RCMP plan for “high-tech weaponry” as an attack on their sovereignty and the economy of the Akwesanse reserve between Cornwall, Ont., and Hogansburg, N.Y.


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Author: David Rich

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