- Officials from President Donald Trump's administration, including Senior White House Advisor Jared Kushner, are pushing for installing web-enabled cameras to livestream construction of portions of the U.S.-Mexico border wall. While there are no details on the location of the cameras, they are expected early next year, according to the Washington Post.
- The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency advised against the cameras, the Washington Post reported, saying contractors do not want their proprietary construction methods visible to the public. Officials are also concerned the cameras would show U.S. work crews violating Mexican sovereignty because they sometimes must stray south of the border.
- The idea was introduced by Kushner partially to discourage criticism about President Trump’s failure to deliver on one of his most famous 2016 campaign promises, a wall between the two countries designed to stem the tide of illegal immigration.
Making web-enabled video of border wall construction available to the public may be another step toward promoting and expediting the project, from the administration's point of view. Earlier this month, acting Secretary of Homeland Security Kevin K. McAleenan waived environmental regulations for the border wall in three Texas counties.
The news about possible webcams also came on the heels on the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers issuing a presolicitation notice for $300 million multiple award task order contract (MATOC) for contractors interested in performing quality assurance on the border wall.
The notice was issued after reports that smugglers were able to saw through 30-foot, concrete-filled steel bollards erected during recent barrier construction. The taller bollards are actually easier than shorter ones to push apart far enough to fit an adult.
Thus far, most of the construction work on the border wall that the webcams would track come from upgrades to pre-existing, dilapidated structures with newer bollards.
If the proposal becomes reality, the administration will have many different types of cameras to choose from, from many manufacturers.
Cameras like those from Ecamsecure, Sensera Systems and EarthCam provide live feeds directly to mobile devices and have increasing amounts of practical applications, like equipment locating.
EarthCam CEO Brian Cury said equipment such these new cameras is “smarter tech” than simple CCTV systems, because they can connect with equipment trackers to record when and where a piece of machinery is moving and easily track down the footage. Drones are also increasingly being used, Cury said, but they’re mostly for inspecting and searching harder-to-reach spaces.
EarthCam’s equipment is mostly used for security, but his insight indicates that there is more to implementing cameras than simply placing them on a jobsite, including providing lighting and power strong enough to make sure footage recorded at night is actually visible.