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Help Fight Illegal Immigration … From Your Living Room

by on July 9, 2010

Border security is a huge issue…duh.  Come on, recent news coverage and debate about border security and immigration has sparked multinational discussion, legislative action, and establishment of various new initiatives to help fight—or just deal with—an issue that has long-ranging effects for all involved parties.

This issue takes lots of man power, lots of time, lots of money, everyone can agree.

I was born and raised in South Texas, just a several hours away from the border.  A quick drive down Highway 77 towards Mexico and you will not only see dozens of Border Patrol vehicles, you will also see them in helicopters, on four-wheelers driving the fence lines, and you will also pass through several security checkpoints.  Most recently, to help combat efforts, they have even placed a series of face recognition cameras up-and-down the highway to help identify suspects.  

There is only so much the government can do.  And from a citizen’s standpoint, aside from alerting officials (via 911), there has never been a proactive, widely-recognized, widely-accessible means of citizen enforcement….until now, well kind of.

BlueServo, a Texas-based firm, has joined forces with the Texas Border Sheriff’s Coalition to form a public-private partnership to create a “real-time surveillance program designed to empower the public to proactively participate in fighting border crime.”

Yes, they are using a combination of federally-funded grand money and social media to fight illegal immigration and promote border security.  Really, seriously?

Sounds like a great idea… expand man power with fairly cheap resources and help combat crime.  However, the concept they have developed, in my mind, isn’t very feasible and isn’t worth the 2+ million investment, for the following reasons.

  1. Engagement: Who wants to stare at a screen for hours waiting for some action?
  2. Accessibility: Only people with internet (not mobile friendly) access can access the website, and it also requires registration and disclosure of personal information.
  3. Reality: Once illegal immigrants know where the cameras are placed, they will avoid or destroy them…. duh.

Although I think it’s a fail, many of BlueServo’s Facebook page think it’s the most awesome invention ever.  And according to Compete.com, they have about 15,000 unique viewers a month – thought not nearly as high as they should be.

This campaign is lacking in many areas, however I feel that a well designed and well executed, social and new media initiative could work wonders and prove valuable for Mexico, US, and the government and law officials of both countries, for the following reasons:

  1. Empower citizens: People want contribute the overall effort.  An easy to use, effective, cross-cultural means of social and new media could be the tool citizens utilize to help make a difference.  If they know their voice (anonymous) is heard, they will reach out and help.
  2. Deter crime: With more eyes open, there are more resources and more players are in the game.
  3. Educate citizens: Communicate to people risks of illegal immigration and the associated crime. Use local resources (schools and community centers) to spread the initiative and increase its scope and reach.

This idea isn’t too far-fetched.  Law enforcement officials on the US-Canada border have implemented a text message-based “tip” system for citizens to report suspicious activity.  And according to another article, “Agents already make nearly 90 percent of their contacts based on tips from the public and other law enforcement agencies.”

People will communicate if you give them a means (a practical means) to do so.  Utilizing a mobile-based system would allow people to make tips from anywhere, and will furthermore give people a sense of mind and comfort knowing they have alerted an official who will address the issue.

Question is: in the world of internet-based communications and social media, what system or application would be best for combating this issue?  I think location-based technology is where it’s at.  Users will not only be notifying officials, they will also be giving them their exact location.  It’s easy and it’s streamlined.

Or maybe that isn’t the answer.  What do you think?  Does BlueServo work?  Would you watch a live feed of the Mexico-Texas border from your living room? Or is that just a bunch of garbage?

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From → Mexico

4 Comments
  1. Amina permalink

    Tamara,

    I enjoy reading your post. About your question, I won`t say that BlueServo is a bunch of garbage. However it`s hard for me to imagine myself watching a live feed of the Mexico-Texas border from my living room 🙂

  2. shinetteb permalink

    @ Amina–are you kidding? I can personaly attest that people in the South sit and listen to police scanners for hours–so Blueservo could be on to something! lol

  3. Amina permalink

    Shinett people in the South can listen to but I don`t think that in every part of the US people would sit and listen to police scanners.

    But I said “I won`t say that BlueServo is a bunch of garbage”. I think it could work!!!

  4. I liked your personal take on BlueServo and their idea for how to fight illegal border crossings. Your suggestions for why it didn’t work and what they could do to fix it were spot on and the flow of this post was excellent. The only negative side is that it wasn’t really about Mexico, but more about the US and how they could fight illegal border crossings. Ultimately the assignment this week was to focus on something you learned about Mexican culture and one interesting thing about how Mexicans were using social media. This post, while interesting to read, struck me as more about how Americans were using social media to prevent Mexicans from crossing the border. A good post, but not really on topic for the assignment, otherwise your score would have been higher. (3 – 1 for late post = 2)

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