President Trump’s “Border Wall” Cost Dispute Analysis

On January 25, 2017, President Trump signed an executive order (see Appendix A) that calls for the construction of a wall along the U.S. southern border to prevent illegal immigration from Mexico.

The executive order includes the following action: “Produce a comprehensive study of the security of the southern border, to be completed within 180 days of this order, […] to obtain and maintain complete operational control of the southern border.”

During the election campaign, Trump quantified that the cost of the wall will hover at $8-12 billion. However, politicians and engineers challenged that figure as entirely unrealistic, not even covering the minimum predictable costs.

According to a paper published in MIT Technology Review, a 1,640 km steel-reinforced concrete wall should cost $40 billion. According to the wall expert Mr. Todd Sternfeld, the cost of the wall could exceed $26 billion. The Bernstein Research group has estimated that the cost the new wall could be between $15 and $25 billion.

During the election campaign, Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell estimated that the border wall would cost $15 billion.

In 2009, the CRS (Congressional Research Service) concluded that the cost of ownership of a 1,610 km double-layer fencing ranges from $16.3 to $69.5 billion over a period of 25 years, depending on the wall-fence specifications.

Figure 1 – U.S.-Mexico Border Fences and Other Structures – January 2017

 

On February 9, 2017 Reuters (Ms. Julia E. Ainsley) published some details concerning a preliminary DHS internal document to be submitted to the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB), which prepare President Trump’s 2018 Federal Budget Request to congress. The document states that:

“President Donald Trump’s “wall” along the U.S.-Mexico border would be a series of fences and walls that would cost as much as $21.6 billion, and take more than three years to construct. With 1,046 km of the border already fortified, the new construction would extend almost the length of the entire border. The plan lays out what it would take to seal the border in three phases of construction of fences and walls covering just over 2,000 km by the end of 2020”.

The purpose of this analysis is to make the public aware of the conflicting cost estimates, by using the expertise of Homeland Security Research Corp. (HSRC) engineers gained from past border wall-fence consulting projects.

  • A careful analysis of the Executive Order Section 3 Clause (e) definition of a “Wall” reveals that it allows the use of any “similarly secure, contiguous, and impassable physical barrier,” which would cost about 10% of the value of a concrete wall.
  • The Executive Order wording allows the administration to limit the length of the new wall-barrier to 1,610 km. Furthermore, the order does not specify the electronic sensors and other security infrastructure to be installed along the new “wall.”

As the cost of the Wall “is in the details” (e.g., design specifications), HSRC engineers analyzed 4 wall-barrier design alternatives, ranging between:

  • A maximum-cost concrete wall with multilayered security, 3,145km-long and 40ft-high, from the Pacific Ocean to the Gulf of Mexico, at a cost of $34.2 billion*.
  • A minimum cost “photo op wall”: a multilayered electronic security barrier, consisting of a 40km-long and 40ft-high concrete wall, as well as a 1,560km-long and 24ft-high fence, at a total cost of $6.2 billion.

Figure 2 – Cost of 4 Southern Borders [$M] – HSRC’s Design Alternatives

 

The full report can be downloaded at: http://homelandsecurityresearch.com/president-trumps-proposed-border-wall-cost-dispute-analysis

 

Premium Screening vs. Fear of Radiation – the Whole Body Scanners Technology Dilemma

A performance knockout goes back to the jury because of public misconception of radiation
Security decision makers are faced with an almost unfair dilemma in choosing Whole Body Scanners enabling technology. On the one hand, MMWave technology has limited resolution and above all cannot detect intra-cavity smuggling (e.g., passengers hiding plastic bags containing drugs or explosives in their body cavities, terrorists’ plans to use surgeries to implant explosives inside the body of would-be suicide aviation terrorists). On the other hand, Backscatter X-Ray technology provides dramatically-superior screening performance:

  1. It detects explosives and arms within and outside the human body
  2. It provides (some) material identification capabilities (e.g., TNT vs. a bar of chocolate)
  3. It can, due to its high spatial resolution, identify a bomb’s wires

In short, it would be very difficult for terrorists to beat this technology at a radiation dose of a two minutes’ flight at 30.000 feet.

The dilemma arises from the public’s fear of radiation – a term that is automatically connected with the word Cancer. Following 40 years of medical research, no study has indicated any elevation of cancer prevalence in commercial air crews who fly hundreds of hours per year for over 20 years over a non-flying population.
MMWave AIT
Advantages
  • Does not require bulky portals
  • Can provide the dielectric constraint of the screened concealed object being screened (if it is dielectric)
  • No privacy issues
  • No ionizing radiation
Disadvantages
  • Limited spatial resolution of ~1cm, but enough to detect an object (>2 cm) mounted outside the body
  • Can’t detect intra-body concealed explosives and arms
  • Limited throughput
Safety

Millimeter wave technology emits ‎thousands of times less energy than a cell ‎phone transmission.
Source: TSA

Backscatter X-Ray
Advantages
  • High spatial and material ID resolution
  • Maximum detection of potential threats
  • Detects metallic and non-metallic weapons
  • IEDS detection
  • Detects explosives and drugs
  • Demonstrated effectiveness in a prison environment
  • Can be used as primary or secondary screening
  • Hard to defeat
  • Some material ID reduces secondary screening
  • 2nd generation systems have no privacy issues
  • Detects intra-body concealed explosives and arms
Disadvantages
  • Requires ionizing radiation
  • Public fear of radiation
  • Limited throughput
Safety

One backscatter technology scan produces the same exposure as two minutes of flying on an airplane.
Source: TSA

Read more…

Purchasing Price of Whole Body Scanners Represents <5% of Their Total Lifetime Cost

With the expected acquisition completion of Whole Body Scanners with Advanced Imaging Technology (AIT), the TSA would have installed 878 units across 140 U.S. airports. According to the U.S. Congress GAO, the total lifetime cost for these machines will be $3.5B. This means that the actual purchasing ex-factory unit price of approximately $170K represents less than 5% of the costs with the bulk 95% comprising of systems installation costs, TSA 24/7 screeners labor costs, training, upgrades and maintenance costs.
The recent planned procurement announcement of 878 machines actually goes back to the original pre-2009 installation plan. In response to the Dec. 29th, 2009 bombing attempt, the TSA proposed the procurement of 1,800 additional AIT systems, then reduced to 1250, and finally went back to the originally planned 878.

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In 2013, China’s Safe City Projects Grabbed 58% Share of the Global Safe City Market

Out of the 2013 $17.4B global safe cities’ market, China’s $10.2B included $3.6B for procurement from foreign-based companies such as IBM, Cisco and Siemens.
Chinese Safe City Billboard. (Source: China Ministry of Interior)
According to “China Safe City Technologies & Markets – 2013-2022” and the “Global Homeland Security & Public Safety Market – 2014-2022” reports, China’s safe city market (including planning, consulting services, systems procurement, integration & installation costs, maintenance and upgrades) will accumulate to $138B between 2013 & 2022 and peak in 2021. $46B of this amount will go to foreign-based companies.  The main driver of this market is China’s 650 (or “Plan 3111”) safe cities program. These safe cities municipal-level deployments of sensors and systems are intended to enhance the mitigation of crime, terror and prepare for either manmade or natural disasters. In these projects, deployments of 100,000-plus surveillance cameras per city are not uncommon, dwarfing even the largest European or U.S. smart & safe cities projects.  China’s seemingly unquenchable thirst for advanced video surveillance technologies led to 13M cameras already installed, making China the world’s largest consumer of video surveillance equipment.

Read more on China Safe Cities Technologies and Markets business opportunities, market figures and forecasts

Multi-Modal Data Fusing is the Future of Airport Security

The combination of terror threat, the shortcomings of existing technologies and governments’ willingness to spend, provide for a new fast growing Airport Security market in the coming decade

According to HSRC’s latest report Global Homeland Security & Public Safety Market – 2014-2022, nearly 25% of current airport operating costs are related to the costs of purchasing and running security technologies (compared with only 8% pre-9/11).  Despite these costly expenditures, the performance of these systems leaves much to be desired. Unacceptably high false alarm rates, overlooked threats, poor passenger experience, as well as the high cost of personnel will continue to drive the market for high-end technological solutions.

There is no “silver bullet” security protocol or technology that can keep up with the increasing sophistication of the 21st century terrorists.  Thus, HSRC forecasts that in the future, multi-threat, interconnected detection modalities that are fused with security and other databases will dominate the market.  

Airport Security Multi-Modal Fused Systems (source: DHS)

Some of the detection signatures include:

    • Passenger background info. (e.g., security and other databases, driver license database, IRS)
    • X-ray systems
    • Explosives trace detectors
    • Checked luggage EDS
    • Metal detection portals
    • AIT
    • Airport perimeter security fences
    • Airport worker/visitor biometric ID
    • Smart video surveillance
    • Cell phone airport surveillance
    • Black lists
    • Face recognition standoff biometrics, and more

Read more on Global Homeland Security & Public Safety business opportunities, market figures and forecasts

China, UAE, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia are Fastest Growing Homeland Security Markets

Middle Eastern countries are responding to the ongoing turmoil with rapid spending on Homeland Security & Internal Security technologies. According to HSRC’s latest report Global Homeland Security & Public Safety Market – 2015-2022, while in absolute terms spending of countries such as U.A.E., Kuwait and Saudi Arabia doesn’t come close to the market leaders China and the U.S. (which are forecasted to maintain a 36% share of the 2013-2022 market), in relative terms of GDP share, the Middle Eastern countries spend two to four times as much as the international superpowers. In addition, the urgency resulting from this turmoil makes these regions some of the fastest-growing Homeland Security & Public Safety markets in the World.

Homeland Security & Public Safety Market Size Considering 10 Year CAGR and % of GDP

In the chart above we take a closer look at the Homeland Security & Public Safety market for 10 selected countries. For each of the countries, the chart illustrates the relationship of the forecasted 2013-2022 HLS & Public Safety market CAGR with the market size as percent of GDP. The size of the bubble indicates the overall market size.

Read more on Global Homeland Security & Public Safety business opportunities, market figures and forecasts

107% Hike in 2014 U.S. Funding for Embassy Security Upgrades

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U.S. Embassy Security budget, 2012-2014 [$M]

The Global Homeland Security & Public Safety Market – 2014-2022 report reveals that in 2013 $112 billion (34%) of the Global HLS & Public Safety industry revenues came from the high gross margin service and upgrades business

Driven by Benghazi terror attack in 2012 and intelligence indicating terror attacks on embassies in the Middle East and Africa, the U.S. shut down 19 embassies in August of 2013. Aside from exposing the soft underbelly of the U.S., Al Qaida also scored a media victory by disrupting the operations of the U.S. without firing a single shot.

In light of these global events of the past year, the U.S. Diplomatic Security, which is charged with protecting 285 State Department facilities in 189 countries, requested a $2.7 billion budget for 2014, a 67% increase over 2013 level. Out of this budget, the diplomatic corps facilities security upgrade funding will double from $745 million in 2013 to 1.55 billion by 2014.

This market will be open for technological innovation and will include business opportunities for electronic intrusion detectors, smart video surveillance and command & control systems and blast resistant technologies.

Read more on Global Homeland Security & Public Safety business opportunities, market figures and forecasts