Customs and Border Protection earlier this month said draft requests for proposals (RFPs) are expected to be issued in the third quarter of fiscal year 2022 for two key border security programs, one for sensor towers and the other for a centralized command and control platform.

The agency said it plans a multi-award indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity contract for the sensor tower effort, which is called the CBP Integrated Surveillance Tower (IST) Program and Consolidated Tower & Equipment Surveillance (CTSE). The common operating picture (COP) acquisition will be a small business set aside.

Initially, the CTSE effort will “provision existing surveillance tower capabilities” but CBP said it expects these vendors to be able to demonstrate that their solution can fully integrate with the COP, which could control the towers and exploit data.

The sensor data provided by the current IST towers are stove-piped into separate command and control platforms and rely on operators to continuously monitor their displays to detect, identify and track items of interest. CBP said its Border Patrol division, which uses the surveillance towers, wants more automation to reduce agent workloads.

“The Border Patrol has a need to reduce dependence on agents monitoring systems and traditionally manual functions,” CBP said. “Solutions that provide alerts and usable data to reduce the number of agents required to monitor and operate surveillance systems, and instead focus on classifying threats are desired.”

CBP has three primary surveillance tower programs that it has consolidated into the IST umbrella program. These efforts are the Autonomous Surveillance Towers, which are provided by Anduril Industries, the Integrated Fixed Towers, which are supplied by Elbit Systems of America [ESLT], and the Remote Video Surveillance System, supplied by General Dynamics [GD]. The senor towers can be deployed along the southern and northern borders and coastal areas.

To ensure successful integration between the towers and the COP, CBP will require the CTSE vendors to publish interface documents and software development kits. The agency also said that it wants to leverage ongoing advances in commercial technologies, including 5G communications, mobile ad hoc networks, low cost, high bandwidth satellite communications, and similar technologies.

“CTSE vendors are encouraged to consider incorporating multiple flexible communications options,” CBP said.