Boeing [BA] this week received a $20 million contract from Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to erect legacy video surveillance equipment on the United States’ Northern Border with Canada under the electronic fence portion of the Secure Border Initiative (SBInet).

The Northern Border Project deployment will allow a proof-of-concept test period to see how well the technology works in that environment, immediately assist the Border Patrol’s operational needs, and help CBP and the Border Patrol better understand the necessary mix of technology, tactical infrastructure and personnel, CBP said.

Boeing will deploy 11 Remote Video Surveillance Systems (RVSS) in the Border Patrol’s Detroit, Mich., sector, and five systems in the Buffalo, N.Y., sector. The contract is for one year and project activities are slated to begin during the next two to three months and conclude by the end of the year.

CBP already has some RVSS systems deployed along the country’s southwest border with Mexico.

For the Northern Border Project, CBP acquired the RVSS towers as well as the day and night cameras, which were purchased from L-3 Communications‘ [LLL], for Boeing to install and integrate as well as provide video feeds to the Border Patrol station headquarters in Detroit and Buffalo, Mark Borkowski, executive director for the SBI program, told Defense Daily.

The cost for the towers and cameras was $10 million. For each tower there are two bundles, with each bundle consisting of a day camera and night imaging camera. The task order with Boeing is a separate contracting activity.

Boeing is CBP’s prime contractor for SBInet, which is moving toward limited operational deployments on the southwest border with Mexico (Defense Daily, Feb. 9). That effort had been delayed due to a variety of factors, including integration challenges with the cameras, radars and communication technology that are affixed to towers in remote stretches of the border.

Borkowski said that CBP believes that issues that surfaced during system qualification testing late last year have been resolved and is now doing a detailed analysis to confirm that. Those test issues were not unexpected. Once that analysis is complete, he expects Boeing will begin construction activities in the Tucson-1 Sector of Arizona in the second half of this month. Start of construction for a second deployment in Arizona, called Ajo-1, is still planned to begin around June, he said.

The goal of SBInet is to provide Border Patrol stations, and by extension Border Patrol agents, a greater degree of situational awareness on illegal immigration and drug smuggling than currently exists.

The pending Northern Border deployment of the RVSS equipment will provide an immediate operational utility, Borkowski said. In the Detroit area, the systems will be deployed along stretches of the St. Clair River and Lake St. Clair, providing a mix of a riverine and urban environment to test the capabilities of the technology, and freeing up some Border Patrol agents who currently stand watch over the river into Canada.

In Buffalo, the towers will be placed along the Niagara River.

The video feeds into the station headquarters will allow Border Patrol commanders to deploy their agents where needed, Borkowski said.

The legacy RVSS systems are not as sophisticated as the sensor technology being deployed under SBInet along the southwest border. The RVSS basically allow for remote manual control of the cameras. Each tower has one monitor to switch between the affixed cameras, K.C. Milligan, CBP’s program manager for the Northern Border project, said.

Before the RVSS towers and cameras can be installed, CBP still has to acquire land, do environmental siting, and in some cases where the deployments are remote, ensure there is a power supply, Borkowski said.

The deployment of the RVSS is just one facet of a larger first step on the northern border, Borkowski said. CBP has already contracted with Griffon Corp.‘s [GFF] Telephonics subsidiary for three Mobile Surveillance Sensors (MSS) that will be delivered in May. The MSS are also in use on the southwest border. Two of the systems will be deployed to the Border Patrol’s sector in Swainton, Vt., and the other to the Detroit Sector.

The MSS deployment will not require a contract to Boeing. Instead, CBP will turn the systems over to the Border Patrol, which will take delivery of the equipment and begin operating it, Borkowski said.