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What is Smart Wall? How feasible is Smart Wall for protecting Indian borders – Merits of Smart Wall

What is Smart Wall? How feasible is Smart Wall for protecting Indian borders – Merits of Smart Wall

Relevance:

  • GS3 II Security II Tackling Security Threats II Border Management

Why in the news?

An alternative Smart Wall was recently introduced to replace physical and armed patrols at the US-Mexico border with advanced surveillance technology. The USA declared a national emergency earlier in 2019 to finance the building of a border wall along the US-Mexico border, citing the “invasion” of Mexican drugs and criminals.

Background:

  • There are plenty of situations in which walls, fences, and other physical barriers offer an effective means of guarding assets and preventing trespassing.
  • But to protect a terrain as vast and complex as the United States’ southern border, physical barriers come with a number of logistical drawbacks. Prohibitive maintenance costs, engineering challenges, and lengthy construction timelines suggest the need for alternative options.

What is smart wall?

  • At present, there is no single ‘Smart Wall’ concept.
  • To stop illegal entry, smuggling and other border risks, a smart wall would use technology such as scanners, sensors and radars.
  • The smart wall will motivate border officials and increase understanding of situations to deter illegal activities.
  • To differentiate between animals, humans and vehicles, it will integrate Internet-of-Things (IoT) technologies (such as sensors, surveillance cameras, software solutions).
  • In the event of boundary violations by humans, a warning will be given to police.
  • Such a wall will create a technical challenge.

USA-Mexico border concept:

  • The definition is not new and Mr. Biden cannot be explicitly correlated with the novelty of it. Interestingly, this idea was envisaged by Donald Trump’s proposed U.S.-Mexico border wall.
  • The Trump administration wanted to recruit a technology company and it was suggested that artificial intelligence would be used on a new scale to supplement Mr. Trump’s steel barrier (border wall) initiative.
  • It was reported that hundreds of mobile surveillance towers would be deployed, and along with them, a radar satellite, computer-equipped border control vehicles, control sensors and underground sensors would be the complete framework of a virtual
  • Thermal imaging will be used alongside surveillance towers and cameras, which would aid in object detection.
  • The system would even be capable of distinguishing between animals, humans, and vehicles, and then sending updates to handheld mobile devices of the U.S. patrol agents.

Advantages of smart wall:

  • Cost Friendly: A Smart Wall will achieve the same objectives as a physical wall, but at a much lower cost.
  • Fast Deployment: It will take years for the physical wall to be built while the Smart Wall is ready to go.
  • Customization: A Smart Wall would allow border security officials to change strategies according to the circumstances.
  • Ease of upgrade: IoT devices can be deployed quickly and easily, and are inexpensive to transfer and update.
  • Low Maintenance: A Smart Wall’s maintenance cost is much less than a physical wall.
  • Environmentally friendly: Smart Wall poses minimal environmental issues, enabling the free passage of wildlife and rainwater through the area.
  • Simple monitoring of rough terrain: It is difficult to patrol rough terrain, rendering the border prone to violations. This disadvantage presented by a physical wall would be solved by the Smart Wall, increasing surveillance over a vast terrain.
  • Restricted Land Use: Smart Wall technology needs less government land acquisition than a physical border.
  • Quick Response to threats: IoT technologies will allow patrolling agents to survey hundreds of miles at a time. Additionally, a real-time alert will make it easy for them to respond to activity from immigrants approaching the border or to a lost hiker looking for supplies.

Why should India use “smart walls” for Indian borders?

  • India has struggled with the issue of terrorists and traffickers infiltrating the country and efforts to protect our borders and curb cross-border infiltration are underway.
  • It is therefore suggested that it is high time for us to start preparing the use of technology to help India protect its borders.
  • A crucial factor that must be taken into account in allowing such a framework to be used along Indian borders is that the region’s terrain is rough and, moreover, not even well specified.
  • It is thus incredibly difficult to erect barriers, walls or other physical structures.
  • However, a “smart” wall makes use of systems built in such a way that they can work even in rough areas.
  • In the U.S., numerous other advantages are imperatively noted, such as cost-effectiveness, less environmental impact, less land seizures, and quicker deployment, which offer the “smart wall” definition an edge over conventional physical boundaries.
  • Notably, such a system, even if not feasible for our long boundaries, may still be deployed to enhance critical security establishments of the country and complement the already-existing physical fencing and walls.
  • The assault on the base of the Pathankot Air Force demonstrated that, due to their large scale, it can sometimes be difficult to protect establishments.
  • In addition, it is imperative that Indian military forces be well trained and have the current technical advantage over their enemies at the same time.

Hurdles for implementation in India:

  • Lack of technical expertise:The BSF does not have the required technical expertise to offer clear guidelines to the vendors so that they can provide suitable products.
  • Operation and maintenance: In the case of India, it is widely accepted that the operation and maintenance of the existing sophisticated equipment remain a problem.
  • Less use of available technologies:At present, many of the high-tech surveillance devices deployed by the BSF are not optimally utilised because the required technical expertise is not uniformly available among the force’s personnel.
  • Lack of easy availability for spare parts:Furthermore, the exorbitant cost of the electronic devices and the lack of easy availability of spare parts act as a deterrent against their use
  • Erratic power supply and adverse climatic and terrain conditions in the border areas could potentially undermine the function ning of the sophisticated system

Some previous projects of smart fencing in India:

  • In India, two pilot projects have been completed with state-of-the-art surveillance technologies at Indo-Pakistan Border (10 Kms) and Indo-Bangladesh Border (61 Kms).
  • These projects are termed as Comprehensive Integrated Border Management System (CIBMS)
  • CIBMS uses smart surveillance devices and analyses data in real-time.
  • It involved the deployment of thermal imagers, infra-red and laser-based intruder alarms, aerostats for aerial surveillance, unattended ground sensors to detect intrusion bids, radars, sonar systems to secure riverine borders, fibre-optic sensors and a command and control system.
  • Border Electronically Dominated QRT Interception Technique (BOLD-QIT) under CIBMS is used on the Indo-Bangladesh border in Assam’s Dhubri district.

Way forward:

  • Experts must explore this idea to effectively counter the problem of cross-border infiltration.
  • Is it unfathomable to deploy a security system that clubs technology with traditional set-ups due to terrain and other problematic factors
  • It is one of the biggest step towards digitalization of India so more emphasize should be given to it to make our border safe and secure

Mains oriented question:

With regard to border security, what is the “Smart Wall” concept? Examine the extent of the smart wall in the defence of India’s territorial borders? (200 words)