Appropriating the Medieval (#2) – SBInet Infrastructure Falters

Yesterday’s news reports announced that The Department of Homeland Security is halting construction and funding for the SBInet surveillance project along the U.S./Mexico border, thus diverting $50 million in funds to unspecified projects….“a likely death knell for a troubled five-year plan to drape a chain of tower-mounted sensors and other surveillance gear across most of the 2,000-mile southern border.”

According to Boeing, the primary contractor for the project, the SBInet is (or was):

” a program focused on transforming border control through technology and infrastructure. SBInet will provide frontline personnel advantages in securing the nation’s land borders through the most effective integration of current and next generation technology, infrastructure, staffing and response platforms.”

In previous design speculations F.A.D. has documented the incremental physical thickening of the U.S./Mexico Border as a result of a series of politically motivated containment strategies:

F.A.D. has also commented on the remarkable craft and contemporary appropriation of medieval defense tactics, such as moats, fortified walls and watch towers in U.S. foreign operations, first through strategies of aesthetic dematerialization in the design for the new U.S. Embassy in London, and in the SBInet example, physical dematerialization via imaging and surveillance technologies:

A Border surveillance tower (camera, radar, etc. as designed by Boeing) in comparison to an older, more physically robust prototype.

The SBInet ‘virtual fence’ was an unsuccessful shift away from the incremental layering of physical infrastructure in the hopes of achieving greater panoptical efficiency (Foucault would have had fun with this one).  However, it seems that after spending well over $600 million (as of May of 2009) Boeing just couldn’t cut the mustard on a minutemen dream.

So what are we going to throw at this next?  Hand the contract over to one of the other corporations that competed for the contract – Ericsson, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman or Raytheon?

SBInet tower images courtesy of Boeing. Castle watch tower image via Wikepedia.

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