Protecting Our Borders

By Kevin Coleman

The problem of protecting our country's borders is without question one of the most highly debated issues we face today.The complexity of protecting our borders, while not infringing on individual rights or negatively impacting global trade, should not be underestimated.Of equal importance is our ability to move quickly to reinforce the current security measures with enhanced measures properly supported by regulations and policies.

Since the attacks of September 11, increased emphasis has been placed on security, access control and identification.Positive identification is more critical than ever before.Historically, individuals were identified by some known piece of data or information such as a social security number, government issued photo ID, or a personal identification number.Identification is a far cry from authentication. Today there is technology called biometrics that provides positive identification using fingerprint, iris, facial, hand geometry, voice, and signature recognition.

A few definitions are in order before we go further.Authentication is the process of establishing the identity of an individual.Biometrics refers to technologies for analyzing human physiological characteristics such as fingerprints, eye retinas and irises, voice patterns, facial patterns, and hand measurements, especially for authentication purposes.

Scope of the problem
There are three methods of entering the country, by land, sea or air. When you look at the number of people, vehicles and cargo that enter the country annually you begin to see the magnitude of the task.Every day close to $2 billion worth of goods and services crosses the Canada-U.S.border alone.Given the magnitude of this two-way trade, maintaining a secure and efficient border is critical to the global economy.


Source: Technolytics.


In order to secure our borders without disrupting the flow of goods and people, there must be a fundamental change to the approach that has been taken in the past.We must move from a "guns, guards and gates" mental model to a new model based on "information, intelligence and integration." This change requires a reengineering and process transformation.These efforts will require the Department of Homeland Security to address this issue far more holistically than has been the case in the past. The entire department will be impacted.The following chart assesses the impact on the components that make up the border protection department.


Source: Technolytics. Click image for larger view.

The process of securing our borders has multiple recursive elements embedded within the core thread.This adds to the complexity of operations and the need for new technology.

With substantial change comes substantial risk.There is a finite amount of change an individual or organization can accept in a given period of time.Time is critical.Securing our borders is a high priority and must be accelerated to protect the people, property and government within the United States.

Approach
Like any security system, securing our borders must be based on multiple layers of protection.The border protection systems must extended beyond our physical borders.It is critical the screening process begin by scrutinizing advance information on people and products coming into our country.Of course this will not be achievable without the cooperation of other countries and private industry.The following is a conceptual eight layer model that illustrates the big picture view of what the future may hold.

Layer 1 Country of origin
Objective: Interdiction of terrorist activities within the country where the individual, cargo or vehicle originates.

Layer 2 Point of departure
Objective: Identification of individuals, cargo or vehicles that pose a threat to the U.S.at the last point of departure before they are enroute to our country.

Layer 3 International space (air and waters)
Objective: Identification and interdiction of individuals, cargo and vehicles enroute to the U.S.that are outside of any countries territorial space.

Layer 4 U.S.Territorial Space (air and water)
Objective: Identification and interdiction of individuals, cargo and vehicles that are operating within the U.S.controlled space (air and water - 10 miles out) but are not on U.S.soil.

Layer 5 U.S.Point of Entry
Objective: Identification and interdiction of individuals, cargo and vehicles as the cross onto U.S.soil.

Layer 6 Facility of Entry
Objective: Identification and interdiction of individuals, cargo and vehicles that are believed to pose a threat to the U.S.within the controlled area of the port of entry, border crossing or airport. Actions taken while still at the operational area controlling access to the U.S.

Layer 7 In Country (unbounded travel ability)
Objective: Identification and interdiction of individuals, cargo and vehicles that are believed to pose a threat to the U.S.after they have entered our country and are not at a facility controlled by border protection personnel.Not included in process model.

Layer 8 Specific Target Area of Interest
Objective: Identification and interdiction of individuals, cargo and vehicles that are believed to pose a threat to the U.S.as they are approaching or operating at a specific target at which they plan to launch a terrorist act.Not included in process model.

Now that we have identified the layers involved in the overall security blanket, let's look at the process and how technologies might be used. You can breakdown the entire process into four components.The four components are:
  • intelligence gathering;
  • Authentication;
  • threat assessment; and
  • threat detection.
To do this we will address systems used for individuals, cargo and vehicles across all eight layers separately. The following graphic represents the first part of the process model.


Source: Technolytics. Click image for larger view.

Intelligence agencies collect and analyze data about individuals, cargo and vehicles (ICV) as well as potential plans for terrorist attacks.The intelligence gathered helps evaluate these plans, individuals, cargo and vehicles that may pose a threat if allowed to enter the United States and creates a threat score.These individuals, cargo or vehicles may be preempted by our actions within the country of origin.If not, upon initial screening at the point of departure the individual, cargo or vehicle is first authenticated.This authentication process also includes documents or registration, individual identification, transportation information, organizational affiliation and other pertinent data.It is clear that advances in forgery resistive document technology and integration into foreign country credentialing systems is critical to the effectiveness of any process that is used to protect our borders.Once the ICV has been authenticated, the threat score is evaluated.

Three levels of risk are identified in the scoring.
  • Pass - acceptable
  • Suspect -questionable
  • Fail -unacceptable level
They are either passed to the next layer, sent to secondary screening or detained.The matrix below looks at what technologies would support ICV screening in layers one, two and three.As you can see, no one technology will address the entire scope of authentication and screening.

The ratings assess the applicability of the technology to the specific unit under scrutiny in each particular security layer.The following scoring key was used in the table.


Source: Technolytics.



Source: Technolytics. Click image for larger view.

All modes of transporting ICV are monitored and deviations from normal routes can be detected.In the case of ships, transponder information and electronic documents such as notices (NOAs) currently in use will be part of the authentication and threat assessment process.It is important to remember crew and passengers on vehicles arriving in the U.S.all go through the same screening process as individuals.

Security layers four through six will be addressed in the following section.The same approach is used in these layers as in the first three layers.The recursive nature of the process creates a uniform platform that leverages the four system level components (intelligence, authentication, threat assessment, and threat detection).As the ICV enters U.S.controlled waters or air space, additional screening and threat assessments occur.The following graphic represents the second part of the process model.


Source: Technolytics. Click image for larger view.


Intelligence agencies collect and analyze data about ICV enroute to the U.S.as well as newly discovered planned terrorist activities.All ICV traveling to the U.S.are assessed while enroute and potential threats identified.Information in the screening system is updated and ICV profiles are updated.These individuals, cargo or vehicles may be intercepted while enroute or as they enter U.S.controlled waters or air space.The ICV is re-authenticated when entering our control zone. The authentication process also includes documents or registration, individual identification, transportation information, organizational affiliation, travel paths and other pertinent data.Once the ICV has been authenticated, the threat score is evaluated.At this point it is not necessary for the authentication methods to be of evidence quality. Again the same three levels of scoring are used.

They are either passed to the next layer, sent to secondary screening, or detained.The same scoring key and technology chart are used to establish what technologies would support ICV screening in layers 4, 5 and 6.As you can see, no one technology will address the entire scope of authentication and screening.The ratings assess the applicability of the technology to the specific unit under scrutiny in each particular security layer.Note that other technologies like Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) and satellite imagery have not been included in the matrix.They are part of the intelligence gathering technology suite and classified.


Source: Technolytics. Click image for larger view.


Only slight differences in the applicability of technology occur in layers 4 through 6.This is due primarily to the reluctance of the U.S. to send sophisticated technology to all foreign points of departure as well as the government of foreign countries reluctance to have supply sophisticated surveillance systems owned and operated by another government on or near their territory.

Just as important as screening at the point of entry is exit assurance. It is equally important to incorporate an exit from the U.S.function. Millions of foreign visitors enter the U.S.annually and do not exit at the required time.Identification of these individuals must be an integral part of the new border protection system.

Clearly this is a very large and complex collection of individual systems and technology.Implementation of a system such as this will require a significant effort and has a price tag above $1 billion.The key is integration -- integration of not just systems and technology, but governmental policy, regulations and international standards.One should not discount the political efforts that will be required to gain cooperation from foreign countries and to position such a system with domestic privacy advocates and organizations looking to protect our civil liberties.

The operation of this system could turn from a screening and border protection systems to a law enforcement system.For example, if fingerprint biometrics are used, they could be integrated with the FBI's fingerprint database and National Crime Information Center databases,where wanted individuals are identified.One could even integrate criminal justice systems that list individuals with outstanding warrants.As an individual passes through the fingerprint station at the screening point, he or she would be authenticated and the databases would be accessed to see if there were any outstanding wants or warrants.If so they could be arrested or detained at that point.This represents only one of dozens of functional, operational and policy decisions that are ahead of implementing a fully integrated border protections system.These politically charged policy decisions and obtaining international cooperation can not and should not stand in the way of implementing a system such as the one described.A system designed with an abstraction component could be deployed so that additional flags could be set once additional data integration point with new regulations and policies have been developed.


Source: Technolytics. Click image for larger view.

The system architecture can isolate areas of uncertainty while allowing the base system to be designed, tested and deployed.Allowing the Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (LDAP) Directory to house the identity and flags indicating threats, warrants, interests or other critical threat information would also increase the speed at which the system can process individuals.While we have addressed only the individual screening aspects of the architecture, a similar approach can be leverages in the cargo and vehicle areas.

There is no question there will be political debate within the international community about such a system.The debate can drag on for months, years or possibly decades.We can not wait until all policies have been debated to begin designing and deploying the future border protection system.We are behind now.Each day we delay we get a day closer to the next terrorist attack on U.S.interests.


Published Monday, March 14th, 2005

Written by Kevin Coleman



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