By Calvin Biesecker

Customs and Border Protection (CBP) on Tuesday said that deployment has begun on eight new surveillance towers in the Detroit, Mich., Sector for the Northern Border Project component of the Secure Border Initiative technology program called SBInet.

The eight Remote Video Surveillance Systems (RVSS) are being installed and integrated by SBInet prime contractor Boeing [BA]. When the deployment is completed along the St. Clair River, from Lake Huron to Lake St. Clair, it will cover about 35 miles of a mix of urban, residential, commercial and riverine environments, CBP said.

Each RVSS tower is equipped with four cameras, two day and two night, that are pointed in different directions to obtain greater coverage.

"The Northern Border Project technology deployment will provide immediate capability to help Border Patrol agents expand their ability to detect, identify, classify, respond to and resolve illegal cross border activity," Mark Borkowski, CBP’s executive director of SBI, said in a statement. "At the same time, this deployment will provide lessons learned that will enable CBP to design better-tailored, longer-term technology options for the Northern Border."

The Detroit Sector deployment follows construction underway in the Buffalo, N.Y., Sector, that began earlier this year on five towers along the Lower Niagara River. Those towers are in addition to four remote video surveillance cameras that were erected long the river in 2003.

The Detroit and Buffalo RVSS deployments are expected to be completed by early 2010. Additional technology investments along the Northern Border are also planned, with a focus on demonstrating capabilities to integrate sensors and data from a variety of sources, and provide that information to the various entities that support border security along that border, CBP said.

Separately, CBP said that construction of SBInet towers and sensors along the Tucson-1 section of Arizona’s border with Mexico is nearing completion.