Futures Made of Virtual Insanity


Businessweek checks in with the much-hyped virtual fence:

Homeland Security Dept. officials have decided that an experimental 28-mile "virtual fence" meant to extend the U.S. Border Patrol's eyes and ears along the U.S.-Mexico border—a web of radar, infrared cameras, ground sensors, and airborne drones—won't be copied anywhere else in its entirety. The project was plagued with design, software, and other glitches; had fallen months behind schedule; and sometimes proved inoperable.

The government agreed to pay Boeing almost the full $20 million for successful completion of the prototype endeavor just south of Tucson, known as Project 28. But in choosing not to expand the project, Homeland Security officials are dashing expectations and causing embarrassment from Capitol Hill to the campaign trail. 

Homeland Security officials say they are not mothballing every aspect of Project 28, nor will they abandon their quest for a fully operational virtual fence along other parts of the border someday. Homeland Security spokesman Laura Keehner said on Feb. 25: "We'll be using the same idea, the same concept, and some of the same technology."

Hooray for change! Businessweek has a more detailed, more damning report on the same subject here. Fewer miles of virtual fencing likely mean more miles of steel and wider use of eminent domain, prospects reviewed here. Both Obama and Clinton have voted in favor of physical fencing, but, as Clinton explained during their February 21st debate in Texas:

I think when both of us voted for this we were voting for the possibility that where it was appropriate and made sense, it would be considered. Bust as with so much, the Bush Administration has gone off the deep end.

How could they possibly have predicted this?