The U.S. Border Patrol uses technology of all kinds -- multiple cameras, underground sensors, radar, infrared, and more -- to protect the Arizona desert against illegal activity. CNET spent a day checking it out.TUCSON, Ariz.--Arizona's long desert border with Mexico is one of the hottest in the nation. Every day the temperature tops a hundred, and every day, the U.S. Border Patrol catches more than 300 people attempting to sneak into the U.S. Many are smugglers responsible for significant cargo -- often migrants or narcotics.
To combat the never-ending flow of smuggling, the Border Patrol operates a complex network of automated sensors -- cameras and underground motion detectors -- in conjunction with air and mobile vehicle-based surveillance, and significant legwork, both in control rooms in Tucson and often on foot in the desert.
There are also checkpoints all over the place, and at the biggest ones, like one along Interstate 19 -- south of Tucson, just north of the Nogales port of entry -- the Border Patrol operates "non-intrusive" technology like a backscatter truck that can scan vehicles looking for organic matter -- people or drugs certainly qualify.
If either a dog's alert or an agent's suspicions warrant it, the backscatter truck drives alongside a vehicle and take a scan. Another agent examines the resulting image, which can be manipulated in many different ways for visual clarity, for contraband.
As part of a daylong Road Trip 2012 tour of the Border Patrol's operations throughout the Tucson sector, CNET reporter Daniel Terdiman got a close-up look at most elements the I-19 checkpoint. [Read more]