The Wall Street Journal reported that In 2009, President Obama closed down the controversial Bush era National Applications Office, which gave law enforcement officials access to spy satellite imagery shot over the United States. The office had raised strong concerns with civil libertarians who recognized the potential infringement on a person's right to freedom from unlawful searches.
deputy executive director of national air-security operations for the Office of Air and Marine (OAM), Kenneth Knight, whose position within US Customs and Border Protection (CBP, organizationally nested within the Department of Homeland Security) afforded him the ability to begin putting into place some big dreams. Knight was helping to lay the groundwork for what in 2005 had come to be known as the Big Pipe, a gestating total surveillance grid that will move far beyond watching the borders by linking together networks of stationary cameras and aerial surveillance, and stream the footage to "fusion centers," creating the ability to seamlessly pass targets between camera networks, and closing gaps in covert monitoring capabilities. According to the article,
[Knight ] was targeting a much larger domain: the national air radar picture and the coastal marine surface radar picture, not just the surveillance cameras in the ports and along the border but also the surveillance cameras in metropolitan areas—airports, train stations, on the side of buildings, anywhere—such that the theater of operations was expanded to the widest possible extent. This broad spectrum of surveillance was really what Knight had in mind when he told me about total domain awareness, an operating picture that encompassed pretty much the entire country. Total domain awareness meant the ability to apply these tools, at will and as needed, anywhere in the U.S.
In 2011 testimony before the House Subcommittee on Homeland Security, Director of the Northern Region Office of Air and Marine, (OAM) John S. Beutlich, talked about one of the Operational Integration Centers (fusion centers) being set up in the country in order to better streamline surveillance and intelligence sharing capabilities at varying levels of law enforcement.
CBP has also established the Operational Integration Center (OIC) located at Selfridge Air National Guard Base in Harrison Township, Michigan. The OIC is a demonstration project, involving the application of personnel and technology to enhance border security and situational awareness for CBP and its mission partners in the Detroit region, a critical area of the northern border. In terms of personnel, the OIC allows for a collaborative work area and communications capabilities for all components of CBP, USCG, other DHS organizations, federal law enforcement agencies, state and local law enforcement, the RCMP and CBSA.
The OIC brings together information feeds, including radar and camera feeds, blue force tracking, database query from databases not previously available to CBP, remote sensor inputs, RVSS and MSS feeds, and video from various POEs and tunnels. Additional information feeds such as local traffic cameras will be added in the near future. This level of personnel and technology integration serves as a model for collaboration and technology deployments in other areas of the northern border.
In 2005, CBP created a robust information sharing environment known as “BigPipe,” which links equipped CBP aviation assets and information sharing protocols to federal, state, local and tribal law enforcement and public safety agencies to provide near-real time video and sensor data—enhancing situational awareness for officers and rescue personnel across the public safety community. BigPipe is also used by numerous federal, state, local and tribal agencies during warrant presentations, controlled deliveries, search and rescue and surveillance operations. Earlier this year, live video information streamed via Big Pipe was used to enable FEMA Rapid Needs Analysis (RNA) teams to quickly determine the condition of levees during the flooding that occurred in the Mississippi River Valley.
Additionally, Processing, Exploitation, and Dissemination cells have been established at the Air and Marine facilities in Riverside, California, and Grand Forks, North Dakota, to provide essential information to law enforcement across the nation—increasing our understanding of evolving threats and providing the foundation for law enforcement entities to exercise targeted enforcement in the areas of greatest risk. This intelligence-driven approach prioritizes emerging threats, vulnerabilities and risks, greatly enhancing our border security efforts.