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

 

Intelligence – The Weapon Europe Really Needs

Terrorist attacks in Europe are not a surprising event anymore. Every few weeks, another country in Europe finds itself under attack by terror. Germany, France, the UK, and Belgium are now all part of the global map of terror incidents. A stronger army and a higher defense budget cannot deal with “lone wolf” attacks or even the small core of closed groups found with in refugee compounds or suburbs.

The field in which Europe is really lacking power is Intelligence. Therefore, this is one of the areas it must invest most in, in order to deal with the problem before it becomes unmanageable. These are the main issues
Europe will need to address in the coming years, and which should trigger higher investment in Intelligence:

  1. Monitoring the borders and roads – The terrorist involved in the recent Berlin truck attack was finally apprehended in Italy. This implies that he managed to cross at least two borders in order to reach the country, where he was caught entirely by chance. Growing threats such as this incident are expected to push Europe to enhance its surveillance capabilities in all sectors of Intelligence – especially in SIGINT, HUMINT, and OSINT. One of the fastest-growing areas will be the increased use of Big Data Analytics.
  2. Dealing with privacy issues – In many European countries, privacy is a very important issue and citizens consider “intelligence” a frightening word. This cultural issue can affect the number of surveillance cameras used, the budget dedicated to communication surveillance, the amount of information shared among organizations, and more. As in many cases in other countries in the world, internal threats may change one’s perspective on “privacy,” giving way to “security” as the top priority. This cultural shift is projected to increase European budgets on surveillance.
  3. Sharing data and intel with more countries – Most of the terrorist attacks in Europe were committed by people who migrated to those places rather than having lived there their entire life. Therefore, their lives and personal “data” are scattered all over the world: Tunisia, Pakistan, Syria, Libya, Afghanistan, as well as several countries around Europe. As a result, the task of collecting intelligence about them has become extremely difficult for one single organization to handle. For instance, learning about the family connections of a person of interest, discovering their credit history, travel history, email & phone history, as well as other types of information can be challenging for a Belgian intelligence analyst, who can only access data collected by Belgium or other countries in Europe. This issue is expected to yield increased investment to enhance data gathering and sharing among countries and organizations.

 Another significant issue linked to the globalization of terrorism is that organizations must deal with a plethora of sources in various languages: travel documents in Swedish, websites in Arabic, communication in Pashtu, human sources in French, social media in spoken Arabic of Tunisian dialect, etc. This problem is expected to emphasize the role of data analysis systems, with authorities no longer relying only on texts and the collaboration among organizations.

Most of the terrorists are not “ghosts” and intelligence organizations usually manage to find a lot of information about them once an attack has already occurred – the key challenge is to reach this information before the attack takes place. This implies new investments to increase the scope of sources and to better exploit existing ones. The market for Intelligence (in all its forms) along with Big Data for security purposes will grow substantially in Europe in the coming years. According to a recent report by HSRC, the market for Big Data in security segments in Europe will grow by over 20% per year. The global market will reach $11B by 2022, growing at a CAGR of 17.5%.

For more information about the report, click on the link below:

http://homelandsecurityresearch.com/2016/11/big-data-data-analytics-market-homeland-security-public-safety-global-market-2017-2022/

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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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

Multi-Billion Dollar Investments for China’s Mass Transportation’s Security Systems

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China Video Surveillance

By 2020, China is expected to have 6,100 km of urban rail lines and 120,000 km of rail network

The Chinese Mass Transportation market is a multibillion dollar market growing at a two digit CAGR. The market is characterized by a special thirst for state-of-the-art technologies (e.g., subway security sensor network ICT, C-3 software products) and high investments in workforce and visitor screening and surveillance.

To date, 36 cities in China have proposals to construct intercity urban rails, of which 28 cities have won official approval. These include new 87 lines exceeding 2,500 kilometers in total by 2015 with a total investment of $ 160 Billion.

It gives a competitive edge to foreign-based companies who can supply first tier high tech equipment and services. As such, foreign companies occupy a major market share in the Chinese transportation market and will continue to do so over the next decade so long as they maintain a technological edge.

Read more on China’s Mass Transportation business opportunities, market figures and forecasts