A Border Wall (95% Effective) vs Technology (0% Effective) - An Analysis
Posted January 31, 2019 | Filed under Fixing The Government
There has been a lot of discussion lately that says walls don't work, are too expensive, and are immoral. Let me show you the "real" scoop on this.
This article will provide an analysis of building a wall for border security versus using only technology. I will focus on three aspects: 1) Effectiveness, 2) Cost, and 3) Morality. These seem to be the three main reasons why one side believes that we should not build a wall and only use technology to secure the border. One side says that a wall does not work but technology does. One side says that a wall costs too much and technology would cost less. One side says that walls are immoral. This article will show the truth and will open your eyes to things that are not even thought of.
Let's start with effectiveness. The goal of border security is simple - to keep those individuals out of the country that don't belong in the country. There is no other reason for border security. With that said, we are addressing two different approaches: 1) building a wall, or 2) using technology. With the goal of keeping unauthorized people out of the country, a wall is about 95% effective and technology is 0% effective. This may shock you, but it is 100% true. Let me show you starting with the wall.
The purpose of a wall is to keep people out and keeps them from bringing in things into the country that we don't want (drugs, WMD's, etc.). It "stops" them. It keeps the honest people honest - much like a lock on your door. Yes, some people may try to climb over or dig under it, but 95% of the people will respect the wall and not attempt to breach it. This has been proven over and over. When Israel built a wall around their country, terrorism and illegal immigration was reduced by 95%! The Vatican has a wall. I cannot remember ever reading an article about someone scaling the wall and getting into the Vatican. I would bet the effectiveness of their wall is higher than 95%. With tens of thousands of walls around the world I can go on and on providing examples of the effectiveness of walls. It is undisputable. So let's talk about the effectiveness of technology.
Technology includes the use of drones, sensors, cameras, and other technologies to "detect" people from coming into the country - NOT stop them. It is like an Intrusion Detection System (IDS) in computer systems. They don't stop hackers; they attempt to detect them when they do hack the systems. With that said, the effectiveness of technology to stop people from coming into the country is 0%! The effectiveness of technology to detect intruders (by their own reporting) is only about 60% to 70%. That means 30% to 40% breach the technology and get into the country. Even if the detection rate was 100%, the effectiveness of stopping people would still be 0%. Compared to a wall at 95%, technology falls way short in effectiveness. Also, technology is easier to breach than a wall. A simple computer virus can bring down a whole array of sensors. Cameras are often shot out. And as technology is getting better, so are the hackers. The only technology I know that would actually stop people from breaching the border would be an army of robots stationed across the border. Yeah right - enough said. So lets move on to cost.
There are four main factors involving cost: 1) Initial purchase price, 2) ongoing maintenance costs, 3) Manpower costs, and 4) Costs involved with mitigating the breaches (people that get by). You don't read too much about the third aspect of cost I mentioned because it is the largest of the costs. In regards to initial purchase costs, my research shows that the cost is about the same for either building a wall or using technology. In reality, the technology costs are actually a little higher. So let's just call it even and move on to ongoing maintenance costs.
In comparison, the ongoing maintenance cost of a wall is much smaller than using technology. The ongoing maintenance of a wall includes some paint and corrosion control and repairs to the wall when it is damaged by someone trying to breach it. However, that can be drastically reduced by building a stronger wall. If you simply put up a chain link fence, it is going to need to be constantly fixed. You can cut it with simple bolt cutters. A wall with concrete or thick steel slabs is much harder to damage - and records show they are rarely damaged during a breach versus a fence.
The ongoing maintenance cost of technology is extremely high. First, they need constant monitoring. Someone has to be available 24/7 monitor the cameras and sensors in case they detect something. Second, technology has a higher rate of failure than a wall. They need to be calibrated, fixed, and often replaced. That is just a simple fact with technology. Think about it - does your computer or smartphone last forever? How long do you think technology that is out in the harsh weather of a desert lasts? Yes, they are built stronger to last longer in the weather - and that is one reason why the initial purchase price is high - but they don't last forever.
One major cost factor is manpower costs. The manpower cost of a wall is much lower than for technology. A wall allows you to reduce the number of personnel needed to support it. You can spread out your personnel even further because of the high effectiveness rate. The manpower cost of technology is huge because of the 0% effectiveness rate. You have to have the necessary personnel to be able to find and capture those breach it. And remember that manpower costs are ongoing. They are not a one-time expense. So lets move on to the highest cost factor.
The highest cost factor is the costs involved with mitigating the breaches - in other words - the costs involved with dealing with the people that get by the wall or the technology. These costs are extremely high and often not mentioned in the news. First of all, let me state that the cost (per person) is the same if they get past a wall, or if they get past technology. But keep in mind that since a wall is 95% effective, the cost is only applied to the 5% that get by it. In relation to technology, since technology is 0% effective in stopping people - that means the cost is applied to 100% of the people that breach it. So what are the costs if they get caught?
You have to remember that if someone gets past a wall or technology, we cannot just toss them back to the other side of the border. First, we have to detain and process them, and then they have to go before an immigration court before they can be returned to their country. That is a huge cost! It can be up to $1 million per person. And in many cases they are released within the country until their court date and never show up. Then the costs grow exponentially! They often get money from the government, free medical care, free education, and more - all at the cost of taxpayers. And let me remind you, since we are talking about a comparison of a wall versus technology for border security, a wall is 95% effective, which means the cost is only applied to the 5% that get by it - and technology is 0% effective in stopping people - which means the cost is applied to 100% of the people that breach it (of which only 70% are caught due to the "detection" effectiveness of technology). Need I say more?
In regards to effectiveness and costs, I believe that I have shown that a wall is a "no brainer". The wall is much more effective and costs a lot less. Since it has been mentioned that a wall is immoral, I want to touch on that a bit. If walls are immoral, then all walls in the world are immoral. The wall around the Vatican is immoral. The walls around celebrities and politicians houses are immoral. All the border walls that other nations have are immoral. I'm going to state the obvious - walls are not immoral. That statement is a political statement that is trying to convince people not to support a border wall. It is nothing more - nothing less. And enough said.
Now I'm not down on technology - that is what I do for a living. I personally believe that technology should be used to back up a wall to detect that 5% that get by a wall. And since it is used as a backup to the wall, you don't need as much technology to back it up, saving a huge amount of money. But the bottom line is - we need a wall. I hope that this article has provided analysis, a good comparison, and insight into the major factors involved in the discussion of building a border wall. I love my country and I want it to be safe and secure.
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