Original Business Insider Article:
Tech companies are increasingly bullish on building a “smart wall,” which would incorporate new technologies to beef up security on the southern border.
Many firms see a potential windfall with both Democrats and Republicans floating the idea of tech improvements as an alternative to President Trump‘s call for a steel barrier on the U.S.-Mexico border.
Democrats have said they would back as much as $5.7 billion for a smart wall. Trump himself discussed the idea when announcing the deal to end the recent government shutdown.
“The walls we are building are not medieval walls. They are smart walls designed to meet the needs of frontline border agents,” the president said last Friday. Trump’s critics, though, noted he had first dismissed the idea when it was proposed by Democrats.
The tech and defense industries have long pushed for technology to be a centerpiece of efforts to secure the border. Now they see new momentum for the idea as a bicameral, bipartisan group of lawmakers seek to hash out a border deal to avoid a second shutdown.
“We cannot focus on archaic solutions in order to address this very modern problem,” Rep. Pete Aguilar (D-Calif.), one of the conferees, said during the group’s first meeting on Wednesday. “Technology works for securing the border.”
Some of the technologies floated include drones to surveil areas border agents cannot easily see, biometrics to check people entering the U.S. with their IDs, and sensors that detect people moving across the border.
The encouraging atmosphere has companies looking to highlight technologies that could be deployed.
Elbit Systems of America, a U.S.-based subsidiary of top Israeli defense company Elbit Systems, told The Hill it “stands ready” to expand its work at the border. Elbit has worked with Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to build “integrated fixed towers” equipped with radars and cameras, along approximately 200 miles of the border in Arizona, and says it is prepared to deploy that equipment in other border states, including Texas and California.
“We’re standing by with the ability to deploy more for border patrol to support their mission, pending the outcomes of some of the discussions that are happening right now by the lawmakers and others,” Gordon Kesting, Elbit Systems of America’s vice president, told The Hill. “We think we’re in a good position to leverage the good work that’s been done to date and do things quickly in response to what might be a sense of urgency around more border security.”
Alex Philp, the founder and chief technology officer of Montana-based company Adelos, Inc., told The Hill his company hopes to inform supportive lawmakers about its product: a fiber optic cable that could alert agents to movements along the border.
Philp told The Hill that Adelos, which is competing for a contract with CBP, has been in communication with Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.), who sits on the border talks committee.
Philp called the company’s home state senator “a big supporter of what we’ve been doing.”
Executives who spoke to The Hill had high hopes for the talks.
Philp said he believes the panel’s lawmakers are finally “energizing smart alternatives to physical barriers.”
Despite the new momentum there are potential roadblocks ahead. Republicans and Democrats are still divided on the need for including new physical barriers on the border, a key demand of Trump.
by Maritsa Georgiou
MISSOULA, Mont. —
The president predicts failure, the house speaker digs her heels in, and we’re 15 days away from another government shutdown over a border wall.
But what if a bipartisan compromise could be found in western Montana? That’s what we found out during our time in Washington, D.C., going Beyond the Podium.
The battle rages on in the fight for border security, but there’s technology 2,200 miles away from our nation’s capital that could be the linchpin in border security negotiations.
“If you went up to our Polson site where we have, frankly, millions invested, you would see an incredible capability that puts us in a class of maybe three companies in the world,” said Adelos, Inc. founder Alex Philp.
Adelos came up with a system that uses lasers and fiber-optic cables the size of a strand of hair to detect even the smallest vibrations in the earth’s surface. It can pick up a whisper.
“It’s so sensitive, we have heard roots in the ground move from wind blowing,” Philp said.
The system scans 12,000 times per second and can work directly with technology like drones. It can detect movement up to almost 1,000 feet away on the surface, nearly 5 miles above the ground and also through water.
For border patrol agents, it removes the element of surprise, which is something Philp has talked to them about numerous times at both the northern and southern borders.
“We’re beyond debating if there’s a need,” Philp said. “Now the question is the right technology at the right price in the right way that reduces risk and provides them something they currently don’t have.”
If you break down the cost compared to $5.7 billion, “We could cover the southern border all the way across and all the way back for less than half,” Philp said.
It’s estimated a physical wall would cost around $25 million per mile. Philp says his technology can be installed for $1 million per mile and probably even less. The government started considering his product 11 years ago.
“We want smart borders. The American public gravitates toward this immediately based on readership. It’s common (sense),” Philp said. “But they don’t understand there’s these massive bureaucratic barriers to implementation.”
That could change quickly. Right now, a bipartisan group of lawmakers is trying to reach a deal or risk facing another shutdown in almost two weeks. On that panel sits Sen. Jon Tester. We asked him directly if he thinks Philp’s technology could hold a bipartisan solution to this ongoing debate.
“I do, as a matter of fact,” Tester told us in an exclusive interview. “I will tell you that I’ve known about the technology that Alex has worked on for 10 years or longer. And we ought to look to those technologies, because as the threat changes — and it will over time — we need to make sure we can change those technologies to defeat those threats.”
Sen. Steve Daines and Rep. Greg Gianforte are also interested in Philp’s technology but say there also needs to be a physical barrier to go along with it.
“Border patrol agents also told me they need a wall,” Gianforte said on the floor of the House this week. “They know walls work.”
Whether you agree doesn’t really matter, because Phosonic can work on its own and complement other security measures simultaneously.
“I believe we are one part of an overall solution,” Philp said.
S&K Technologies bought Adelos, Inc. in 2009.
“We’re the only U.S. company — in this case we’re Native American owned — that has a solution to the problem. We’re competing internationally,” Philp told NBC Montana.
And it’s not just border security.
“It doesn’t have to be just defense, and it doesn’t have to be just homeland,” Philp said. “We could be using it to monitor our water infrastructure. We could be using it to measure traffic on the streets. It can actually be the future for how we protect pipelines. I see a huge market for literally wiring the cities of the future.”
For now, it’s back to that fight in Washington. The committee has two weeks to get something through Congress and signed by the president. Philp is passionate about his company’s technology and hopes the bipartisan committee and the president will consider this cyber wall — if not on its own, in addition to a physical one.
As you can imagine, Philp is watching what’s happening in Washington very closely. If Phosonic gets the green light, it could mean up to 60 jobs in western Montana alone and a big boost for our technological reputation.
WASHINGTON DC – December 6, 2018 – The Fiber Optic Sensing Association (FOSA) today recognized Senator Jon Tester (D-MT) with FOSA’s Champion of Innovation Award for 2018. The selection, based on the extraordinary leadership demonstrated by Tester in the 115th Congress to make U.S. security programs more effective through advanced technology, was made at FOSA’s annual conference in Washington, DC.
As the Ranking Democrat on the Senate Homeland Security Appropriations subcommittee, Senator Tester has encouraged the federal government to adopt the use of advanced technology, like fiber optic sensing, to solve border security and other security challenges. He has used his leadership role to provide funding to government agencies focused on solving issues of critical national security.
“Senator Tester is tireless in his work to provide the Departments of Defense and Homeland Security with innovative solutions to meet their mission’s needs,” said Scott Colton, CEO of Adelos, Inc., a member of FOSA. “He understands inherently the value of advanced technology, as those agencies work to ensure the safety and security of the United States.”
“Sen. Tester’s recognition of the value of advanced technologies like fiber optic sensing is a real benefit to the nation,” said Mark Uncapher, FOSA Director. “He has worked non-stop to ensure that our national and homeland security efforts are as effective as they can be.”
“I’m honored to receive the FOSA Champion of Innovation Award,” said Sen. Jon Tester. “Advanced technology like fiber optic sensors represent the type of cutting-edge measures that will help us solve some of our toughest security challenges. Fiber optics and other innovative solutions like it will help keep our borders safe and ensure our nation’s homeland security efforts are effective.”
THE FIBER OPTIC SENSING ASSOCIATION (FOSA)
FOSA is a non-profit organization created in Washington DC in 2017 with the mission of educating industry, government and the public on the benefits of fiber optic sensing. Through webinars, videos, white papers, public presentations, and public policy advocacy, the organization provides information on the use of fiber optic sensing to secure critical facilities, enhance public safety and protect the environment.
FOSA Members include Adelos Inc., AFL, AP Sensing, Asymmetric Technologies, Corning, Ditch Witch, Dura-Line, Emerson Electric, Fotech Solutions, Frauscher Sensor Technology USA, Hifi Engineering, Network Integrity Systems, NKT Photonics, OFS, Omnisens, OptaSense, OZ Optics, Prysmian Group, and Smartpipe Technologies®. For further information, please visit the FOSA website.
Dr. Alex Philp, Founder and Chief Technology Officer of Adelos, Inc., was recently invited to speak at the biennial Montana High Tech Jobs Summit in Missoula, Montana. The event was co-hosted by Sen. Steve Daines (R-MT) and the Montana Chamber of Commerce Foundation. With the high-tech sector growing seven times faster than the average sector growth, the focus of the summit was on how to attract tech companies to Montana, how to remove barriers to business and job creation, and how to improve broadband access in rural Montana.
Dr. Philp participated on a panel, “The Internet of Every-Thing: How Technology and Connectivity Touches Every Part of Our Lives” during which he highlighted how fiber optic sensing capabilities are a good example of an IoT application. Adelos’ Phosonic™ 2.5+ virtual sensor array provides advanced functionality through a connected, machine-to-machine digital network. Utilizing a buried fiber optic cable system, individual virtual sensors are maintained digitally along this array and provide specific detection, classification, and localization information of interest. This information is communicated to other digital machines connected through a secure network, allowing other sensors to use the Phosonic data automatically and continuously. Other participants on Dr. Philp’s panel included representatives from Amazon, BNSF, CTIA, and onXmaps.
The event drew leaders in technology with keynote speeches from Jay Clayton, Chairman of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission; Brad Smith, President of Microsoft; Mignon Clyborn, Commissioner of the Federal Communications Commission; Neville Ray, Chief Technology Officer and Executive Vice President of T-Mobile; and Sanjay Poonen, Chief Operating Officer of VMware.
For more information contact the following:
Dr. Alex Philp, Chief Technology Officer
(L-R): Picture #1: Sen. Daines speaks to the summit. Picture #2: Dr. Philp on the far left.
(Bottom) Picture #3: Dr. Philp speaking on the panel.
Photos by Amber Fern Photography.
MAY 3, 2017
TESTER HIGHLIGHTS MONTANA SMALL BUSINESSES DURING DEFENSE HEARING
Senator: Montana Small Businesses are Bringing Cutting Edge Inventions to the Table
(U.S. Senate) – U.S. Senator Jon Tester today highlighted Montana small businesses and their work to keep Americans safe and create high-paying jobs.
During a Senate Defense Appropriations Subcommittee hearing, Tester emphasized to top Pentagon officials the innovative work Montana small businesses are doing to enhance all branches of the military and support members of the Armed Forces. Tester has used his seat on the Appropriations Committee to secure funding each year for Defense Department grants that Montana small businesses use to hire workers and provide critical equipment and services to the Armed Forces.
“Robust defense research funding ensures that we provide the brave men and women serving our nation with the best possible tools to accomplish their mission and to keep them safe,” Tester said.”Montana entrepreneurs and small businesses are often on the forefront of technology, and they bring fresh ideas and cutting-edge inventions to the table. I know this is true in Montana.”
Tester plans to vote for a federal budget this week that makes strong investments in defense research. Many Montana businesses will receive a portion of these funds to provide research, equipment, and services to the military.
Tester listed some of the important contributions that Montana small businesses are already making to America’s service members during the hearing. Tester specifically emphasized the work of Polson’s Adelos Inc. that develops fiber-optic sensors, Bozeman’s S2 Corporation that analyzes spectrum communication around the world, and Bozeman’s Mystery Ranch that manufactures backpacks for members of the Armed Forces. Adelos was recently awarded a Rapid Innovation Fund contract from the U.S. Air Force to provide a cost-effective solution for securing the perimeters of Intercontinental Ballistic Missile launch facilities.
“Our small, innovative, Montana-based startup has developed a passive fiber optic sensing system that is capable of detecting, classifying, and localizing surface, underground, and airborne threats,” said Scott Colton, CEO of Adelos, Inc. “Sen. Tester has been a strong and consistent advocate for small businesses in Montana making it possible for companies like Adelos to provide the Department of Defense with innovative solutions that help them meet their mission needs.”
“At a time when security threats are increasing across the globe, S2 Corporation is hiring Montanans to develop dynamic technologies that detect and geolocate the radio frequency emissions for communication and radar of our adversaries, across the entire spectrum simultaneously,” said Kris Merkel, CEO of S2 Corporation in Bozeman. “Thanks to Senator Tester, we have been able to secure and extend several important competitive federal contracts that help keep this country safe and create more high-tech jobs right here in Montana.”
“As a member of the Warrior Protection and Readiness Coalition, Mystery Ranch has provided America’s service members with critical equipment that is built for their specific mission,” said Dana Gleason, CEO of Mystery Ranch. “These resources are critical to Mystery Ranch and help us create more jobs right here in Bozeman. We want to thank Senator Tester for his continued support for our troops and the Montana small businesses who equip them.”
Tester has been celebrating National Small Business Week by taking actions each day to help Montana small business grow and create more jobs.
(Copied from Senator Tester’s Online Newsroom: https://www.tester.senate.gov/?p=press_release&id=5240)
Adelos Inc. was recently awarded a Rapid Innovation Fund (RIF) contract from the Air Force Nuclear Weapons Center. Valued at just under $2.5 million, the funding will facilitate the transitioning of technology utilized in the Adelos Strategic Area Intrusion Detection System (ASAIDS) for use by the Air Force. The system provides situational awareness and early warning/intrusion detection capabilities and may be deployed at Intercontinental Ballistic Missile launch facilities.
Adelos’ ASAIDS technology uses fiber-optics to measure a variety of surface, subsurface, and airborne phenomena. The system detects very subtle changes in pressure as acoustic sound waves interfere with light in the fiber. Teamed with dynamic signal processing and a rich range of analytical detection and classification algorithms, the interference data is converted into actionable information.
Rapid Innovation Fund contracts are difficult to acquire. The program is designed to transition innovative technologies, primarily from small businesses, which can be rapidly inserted into acquisition programs that meet speciﬁc defense needs. Adelos will begin by conducting a 24-month validation exercise to demonstrate that Adelos’ fiber optic acoustic sensor data can be used in real-time to detect, classify, and localize security threats.
“Our Adelos technology is the third iteration of the product, with predecessors being installed and tested at Idaho National Laboratory and the U.S. Navy in Keyport, Washington,” said Scott Colton, Adelos, Inc. CEO. “We’re also happy to have the unit manufactured locally by another small business, S&K Electronics, Inc., one of our original partners on the project.”
The Adelos technology has many other applications, in particular in the oil and gas industry. “Oil field fracking is a great example,” said Mr. Colton. “Adelos can be deployed as a low-cost acoustic sensor inside a well where the fiber-optic cable interrogates downhole conditions and dynamics. The system provides real-time, location-specific information on changes to reservoir oil, gas, or water pressures.”
Adelos, Inc. is part of the S&K Technologies, Inc. family of companies. S&K Technologies is a federally chartered Native American corporation owned by the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, headquartered in Montana. It is one of the most successful tribally owned technology companies in the United States. Adelos has assembled a world-class engineering and management team that works closely with the U.S. Navy, Idaho National Laboratory, and other technology partners.
Visit their website at: http://www.adelosinc.com
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