Better Border Control

Integrated system helps Texas Border Patrol agents enhance security, speed response time


The United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Alpine Border Patrol Station is one of 12 Border Patrol Stations in the Marfa Sector, which covers 165,000 square miles and encompasses 155 counties in Texas and Oklahoma — the largest geographical area of any sector along the Southwest border. CBP agents in the Marfa Sector are responsible for securing more than 510 miles of river border.

To enhance overall security, and support its customs and border protection mission more efficiently, Alpine Border Patrol Station sought a security solution that integrated video surveillance with intrusion and access control. The station also wanted a system that would enable its agents to readily manage its entire operation on a single software platform. Additionally, it wanted a modular and scaleable system that could be upgraded and modified as its needs changed, as well as a system that could easily integrate with existing security systems.

Station officials chose systems integrator Senspex Inc., which, in turn, chose Honeywell’s WIN-PAK PRO 2005 access control platform integrated with intercom stations, VISTA-128FBP intrusion panel, and Fusion Digital Video Recorder (DVR) with multiple fixed and Pan-Tilt-Zoom (PTZ) cameras for the hub of its new security system.

The system has substantially reduced the time needed for Alpine Border Patrol Station agents to access and respond to potentially dangerous situations. By consolidating all of the station’s security on a single platform, the system enables agents to scan the entire region using a single screen. Agents can also control any camera in the system from the same screen to quickly assess risks and resolve issues.

“This security system allows the Border Patrol to tightly control the level of access that personnel have to sensitive areas, remotely monitor all activity and respond to situations quicker and more efficiently,” says William Renfro, Senspex senior project engineer.

The VISTA-128FBP intrusion panel provides off-site notification to an MX8000 alarm receiver located at a remote site, while a 32-channel Fusion DVR supports 23 fixed cameras and five PTZ cameras located throughout the premises. All activity is logged, and can be stored for later retrieval.

In the past, management had to manually change locks throughout the facility whenever a key was lost or after an employee was dismissed. Today, administrators can simply delete lost or stolen user access cards from the system. Other time-saving benefits include reduced training time for new agents, as well as real-time management of information, which simplifies access control for sensitive areas. For example, an administrator can grant access to a group and employees tagged to that group automatically inherit its global access polices.

Looking ahead, the Alpine Border Patrol Station is working on connecting other Border Patrol stations to its own alarm receiver, which will help agents to centrally monitor and respond to alarms along a much greater portion of the Southwest border. Station officials are also considering the addition of biometric card readers to ensure HSPD-12 and FIPS 201 compliance.