Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Crossing Borders - Technology From Both Sides

Most struggles in Nature between predators and their prey are part of an 'arms race' where the prey constantly strive to find ways to evade capture and stay one step ahead of someone's next meal, whilst the predators seek ways to maximise the size of their haul whilst minimising their effort. It is to a degree the same in the war between clandestine migrants and thos ethat defend borders.

In the USA Ricardo Dominguez, an activist/hacker and professor at the University of California in San Diego, has developed a new tool to assist Mexican migrant workers safely cross over the border into the United States. The simple and easy to use 'Transborder Immigrant Tool' is made from just a cheap mobile phone and a free GPS application.

According to Dominguez, it consists of a "Motorola i455 cell phone, which is under $30, available even cheaper on eBay, and includes a free GPS applet. We were able to crack it and create a simple compass-like navigation system. We were also able to add other information, like where to find water left by the Border Angels, where to find Quaker help centres that will wrap your feet, how far you are from the highway—things to make the application really benefit individuals who are crossing the border."

On the other side of the (electrified) fence, or the Atlantic in this case, is the HERTI, an unmanned air vehicle or drone, developed by BAE Systems and currently being looked at by the South Coast Partnership to check for 'illegal' migrants trying to cross the Channel in currentlu unmonitored shipping.

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