Now everyone can monitor the Mexican border, Big Think

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December 4, 2008 @ 20:02 UTC

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Labor & Immigration, Media & Internet, Terrorism and Security, International Relations

Texans are taking their cues from Londoners these days with the
establishment of a CCTV-based surveillance program for monitoring the
US-Mexico border. A public-private initiative between the Texas Border Sheriff’s Coalition and the digital surveillance program Blue Servo,
the program has erected cameras in areas along the Rio Grande known for
drug smuggling and human trafficking. Explaining the need for the
cameras to France 24, Donald L. Reay, the executive director of the
Texas Virtual Border Watch Program, noted, “We have a pretty open
border with our neighbors to the south and bad people could take
advantage of that.” Internet users are the eyes of the program. When a
user logs on Blue Servo as a “Virtual Texas Deputy” they may select
from 11 cameras at various stations along the Rio Grande. At this point
they may sit back and let their civic duty take over. When they notice
bad people, they can file a report at Blue Servo which will alert the
local authorities.

Reay anticipated criticism of program but said, “Of course there are
people who will talk about the Big Brother thing, others who will talk
about immigration, and others who will say it’s voyeuristic.” The
potential for voyeurism had not dawned on us here at Big Think,
but it certainly seems plausible that some citizens of south Texas may
engage with BlueServo in this manner. Always abreast of transboundary
issues, we monitored Camera 830 for about fifteen minutes this morning.
It overlooks a placid stretch of the Rio Grande where some peckish
waterfowl swam by on the dawn waters, but criminals and terrorists were
nowhere to be seen.

Big Think has interviewed a host of immigration experts
and our questions have hit the issue from all angles. What is the
immigrant experience in America? How do we decide who gets to be an
American? How will a nation founded, built and continually refueled
by immigrants broach the issue under the country’s first
biracial president? To frame our discussion of an online border patrol,
let’s turn to Bill Richardson, Governor of New Mexico and descendant of
a long line of Mexican immigrants, on what steps can be taken to tackle
the immigration dilemma.

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