Border Expo touts security on a budget

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By Jennifer Thomas By Jennifer Thomas

PHOENIX -- The Border Security Expo has the Phoenix Convention Center full of fascinating, high-tech gadgetry designed to better secure U.S. borders.

"It's a one-stop shop, bringing together buyers and sellers," said organizer Michael Rosenberg.

The former head of the Border Patrol, Jay Ahern, spoke at the expo Tuesday. He said despite budget cuts, federal dollars are available to spend on border security. He expects some will be spent on new technology found at the expo.

"It's clearly a lot of interesting technology border agents could use," Ahern said, "But in these budget times, [the vendors here] need to have something technically acceptable and low cost."

Vendors seem to have received that message.

"Our goal with the Border Patrol is to offer them affordable solutions," said Mark Dingle of NEANY, Inc, which developed a surveillance drone to spot illegal border crossers.

It's already in use in Afghanistan and Dingle said it operates at a lower cost, with a smaller footprint and fewer people, than Predator Drones. Dingle said he understands the government's money crunch.

"This is a time where, if we're serious about [doing business], we need to come up with the most efficient solution for each situation," Dingle said.

Border Expo vendors are hoping their efficiencies in new technology will lure cash-strapped government buyers looking to add surveillance along the border.

Gov. Jan Brewer, after a tour of the expo, said it won't be her. She again asked the federal government to employ the new technology displayed at the expo.

"I'm hoping someone will be here from the Department of Homeland Security and make an investment in our safety," Brewer said.