Border-security businessBorder-security crisis boosts Tucson's economy

Published 8 December 2010

An economic boost for Arizona city from the border crisis; with the University of Arizona, and some fifty companies already involved with border security in some way, Tucson’s future could hold more high-tech, high-paying jobs; research firm MarketResearch.com concludes that worldwide spending on border security products and services will reach $15.8 billion in this year alone

The position of Tucson, Arizona, on the front line is paying off in at least one way. The so-called virtual border fence has not worked out so well, but this is not stopping companies from developing other high tech tools for border security. These companies are coming to Tucson to build and test them.

You know, controlling the flow across borders is important to everyone for a variety of reasons,” says Dr. Steve Patterson, DILAS North America facility general manager.

KOLD13News reports that DILAS is a Tucson-based, global diode laser company at the University of Arizona Tech Park on the southeast side. The park houses many things you’ve probably never heard of, not the least of which is ideas.

DILAS is involved in the manufacture of highly-sophisticated, high-power laser components and systems for border security around the world.

Patterson says, “It’s not visible light. It’s in the infrared and can be picked up by detectors so you can surveil areas with illumination — looking for something with an aircraft flying overhead or even a ground-based system.”

So when it comes to border security, the technology is more than just a fence, more than agents patrolling the desert,” KOLD13News reports. “There’s laser technology that can see where something happened, and even when.”

Maybe you’re not necessarily looking to find a person as maybe you are to find a route across or you’re capable of finding a tunnel that’s being dug that you can’t see in any other way. That’s probably one of the more promising uses of the laser,” Patterson says.

The UA is developing a sort of cluster of companies that will help find solutions to border issues here and around the world.

One way would be to be the place where border security technology is tested, evaluated and certified.

Molly Gilbert is UA Research Parks director of strategic initiatives. “We’ve come in and continued to pursue our interest in developing the testing and evaluation center, but also looking at how can we take these new technologies and be able to spin them out and create economic benefit to the community,” Gilbert says.

With the University of Arizona, and some fifty companies already involved with border security in some way, Tucson’s future could hold more high-tech, high-paying jobs.

Gilbert says, “We actually have all the components to put together the creation of a hub for border security here in southern Arizona.”

The firm MarketResearch.com concludes that worldwide spending on border security products and services will reach $15.8 billion in this year alone.

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