EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – The U.S. Border Patrol recently installed two new Autonomous Surveillance Towers (AST) in the Santa Teresa Station area, that they say will help agents monitor highly trafficked areas.
Years ago, the agents had to take turns monitoring the area with binoculars in over 100 degree heat. With the new technology, the agent’s sun filled days are mostly over. Officials say the AST’s they are not only cost-effective and mobile, but can be quickly relocated with minimal impact to the environment.
“This will actually allow one agent to monitor about four cameras, when it detects movement, it is able to zoom in on it and detect what kind of movement is it, whether it’s human, its vehicle, or its animal,” said Agent Freeland.
The self-scanning cameras have a radius of about 3 miles, and are constantly panning and zooming, eliminating the need for agents to work the cameras themselves.
Officials share that the ATS are 100 percent powered by solar energy, with the camera’s solar panels allowing one hour of sunlight to power the cameras up to 24 hours.
“So one of the neat things about this camera is that it doesn’t mess up with the environment… we can move it. As you can see, nothing is set in stone, it runs on its own,” said Agent Baca.
Officials add that they have other options, like the long range thermal cameras that are mounted on the back of trucks for faster access. The variety of cameras allows Border Patrol to utilize them to the best of their ability, but they say no matter how advanced technology gets, they will always need that human element in order to make arrests.
“We have a mission, which is securing our nations borders and we take it very seriously, any tool that the government is able to provide to make that job easier and safer for the agents, we’re going to take advantage of it,” said Agent Baca.