Plans to build a high-tech "virtual fence" along the US-Mexico border have been set back at least 3 years after serious problems emerged in the pilot project, the Washington Post reports. The 28-mile fence south of Tuscon, which included unmanned surveillance towers equipped with radar linked to computers, didn't function as planned. Boeing-installed commercial software wasn't powerful enough to process the data to detect illegal crossings, and had to be replaced.
One insider attributed the failures to White House officials who rushed into the project for political reasons without properly consulting the Border Patrol. Officials "basically took equipment, put it out there without any testing," the source said. The administration announced in 2006 that the US would spend $.7.6 billion to secure all 2,000 miles of border by 2011, but it now estimates that it will have only 100 miles of virtual fence finished by then.