Border management: Guarding the frontiers

Border management: Guarding the frontiers


Col AK Singh
Col AK Singh (retd)
Vice President, Scanpoint Geomatics Ltd.
[email protected]

<< Border management is important for a nation’s security. There is a need to cultivate modern surveillance technologies for the purpose >>

The first boundary was traced on the ground by the first being that understood his position in face of his neighbours. From individual property it passed to the collective sovereignty, i.e. to the household, from the household to the city, from the city to the province, and from the province to the country. Everything has limits, lanes, fences, walls or some other designation that defines the characteristics of the material possessions, of some being, be that a man or a social entity.”
– Castillos Goycochea
Evolution of border, boundary and frontier
The concept of territory, such as it is understood today, only came to be used a little less than 300 years ago. Until then, the nations would define their territories by the land over which their governments could exert their sovereignties. The materialisation on the land, with defining monuments, of the limits of a territory, only came into existence from 18th century onwards. The first such attempt can be traced to South American continent with treaties of Madrid (1750) and Saint Ildefonso (1777), which sought to separate the Spanish domains from those of the Portuguese.

Sequence in establishing a boundary
The ideal sequence of events in establishing a boundary is as follows:

  • The first stage involves the description of the boundary and the terrain through which it runs. This description identifies, as exactly as possible, the location of the boundary being established. It may refer to hilltops, crest lines, rivers and even to cultural features, such as farm fences and roads. This first stage, often formalised by treaties, is considered as definition of the boundary. When treaty makers define the boundary in question, their work is placed before cartographers who, using large-scale maps and aerial or satellite imagery, plot the boundary as exactly as possible.
  • Delimitation: The period of time separating the stage of delimitation from the initial stage of definition may amount to decades; for example, several African countries whose boundaries were defined towards the end of 19th century are now in the process of delimiting their borders.
  • Demarcation: There is then the task of marking the boundary on the ground. For this purpose, materials are employed. Boundary demarcation, as this process is called, has by no means taken place along every boundary defined and delimited. When a boundary is demarcated, a wide variety of methods may be employed. Boundary demarcation is an expensive process.
  • Administration: The final stage in boundary making is administration; that is, establishing some regular procedure for maintaining the boundary markers, settling minor local disputes over the boundary and its effects, regulating the use of water and waterways in the border area, and attending to other “housekeeping” matters.

Border management
Border management is a mechanism to ensure the security of national borders and to regulate legitimate movements on borders to meet various needs of the nation by cultural-social-economical interactions which are performed through the borders.

Essential features of border management
Some of the essential features of border management are:

  • Institutional mechanisms: Domestic and Joint Institutional mechanisms
  • Mobility of mechanisms: Offices and security forces
  • Proper establishment of law and legal procedures
  • Use of technologies and their updation
  • Border area development programmes
  • Reconcilement of border disputes
  • Border surveillance initiatives

Indian border
India has 15,106.7 km of land border and a coastline of 7,516.6 km including island territories. The length of land borders with neighbouring countries is provided below:

Border management involves three major facets. These are:

  • Ensuring the security of border areas by preventing cross-border crimes; this would generally lie in the domain of borderguarding forces
  • Ensuring the welfare of the border population and integrating them in the national mainstream; this would generally lie in the domain of civil administration and other government departments, and
  • Ensuring prompt resolution of all border related problems and maintaining cordial relations with the neighbouring countries, especially with counterpart border-guarding forces; this would require a certain amount of diplomatic acumen on the part of borderguarding force commanders and a clear-cut mutually acceptable framework for solving problems.

Border area management

Deployment of hi-tech electronic surveillance equipments on international borders
The need for deployment of a suitable mix and class of various types of hi-tech electronic surveillance equipment like night vision devices, hand held thermal imagers, battle field surveillance radars, direction finders, unattended ground sensors, high powered telescope, etc. on the international borders of the country, to act as a force multiplier for effective border management, has been felt by the government.

Creation of physical barrier

These include:

  • Fencing and flood lighting of borders
  • Deployment of fixed surveillance and response vehicles
  • Development of integrated check posts (ICPS)

Identification of route for infiltration
The key asset of the all-terrain mobile surveillance vehicle includes protection, border and perimeter surveillance, threat identification using electro-optic sensors and ground surveillance radar.

Maintenance and upkeep of database of all inputs
To effectively patrol large areas, a flexible network of MSUs can be scaled to meet operational needs for networked surveillance and threat and intelligence database. Record of dataset of all the previous infiltration, threat, crime areas, etc, needs to be maintained and the input should consist of all sources responsible for security. This should be integrated with GIS for analysis update.

Creation of map boards with high resolution satellite imageries
Once the dataset gets ready, a large map board can be created using high resolution pansharpened imagery, and linking the map board to the GIS platform for updating and identifying all activities of adversary.

An image based data analysis of area up to 100km of border
Using images, one can look into enemy’s territory and with the help of temporal images, one can identify changes over a period of time to understand enemy’s movements.

Use of UAVs for suspected areas
Using UAVs, one can man those border areas which are known to be frequent routes of infiltration. The UAV data can be linked to the map/ imageries and exact location can be identified and effective measures can be taken.

Use of Aerostar for intercepting transmission and identifying its point of origin
In terrain region, it is easy to intercept the enemy wireless transmission but determining its actual location is very difficult because of echo of sound. Using Aerostar, it is possible to identify the actual location from where the communication took place.

Coastal security
A coastal security scheme has been formulated for strengthening infrastructure for patrolling and surveillance of country’s coastal areas, particularly the shallow areas close to coast to check and counter illegal cross border activities and criminal activities.

Use of GIS in border management
Image processing is a scientific process which will be of great importance to the user if he can successfully exploit all the features in an image. This will help in effectively carrying out border surveillance and dealing with insurgents who are operating inside our territory.

By using image processing functionality like continuous observation of any changes over a period of time in an area which is specifically being used by insurgents for cross-border infiltration, one can identify routes for infiltration and exfiltration, militant hideouts and their training camps. The 3D model gives a real-time perspective view for the planner and troops on ground to have a true picture of the terrain. By implementing the view shed analysis tool, the likely area of observation can be identified and monitored effectively. The tracking analyst tool which has the ability to clearly identify and record all the inputs received of the activities, provides a pictorial view on a map of all the events as it has happened over a period of time.

Emerging GIS technologies, such as Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) and the Global Positioning System (GPS), are gaining popularity for surveillance, and thereby capture long desired supply chain efficiencies. The activities recorded from all sources when stored in a database on a GIS platform help an expert correctly identify the routes of infiltration, dominated areas of militants, their support base and all relevant information which will help in effectively controlling and dominating these areas. Preponderance of security forces in a defined area can curb the movement of militants but it is not sustainable for a long time, hence new technologies have to be used to tackle the emerging problems and difficulties. GIS is increasingly deployed by law enforcement agencies for counter-terrorism operations.

The Tracking and Warning System (TWS) software for fishing boats is a GIS based centralised application for tracking and monitoring boats anytime and anywhere in the world. TWS Software forms the core of the TWS Control Stations (TWSCS), TWS Monitoring Stations (TWSMS) and Vessel Traffic and Port Management System (VTPMS). Using the boat and crew register menu, users can register boats and information about crew and store them in the database. Each boat will have a terminal device for communication (and will automatically send the information about location) and warnings (using panic button) to the TWSCS.