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Nine universities team on border security issues

By Kris Rodriguez
Public Affairs Specialist

(Nov. 14, 2006)--Nine research universities in Southwest border states announced Nov. 13 the formation of the Southwest Border Security Consortium, an alliance that will develop and promote scientific and policy solutions to issues affecting the U.S.-Mexico border region.

"The SBSC is a collaboration of universities with unique expertise and a broad range of assets that can be leveraged to address the challenges facing the public and private sectors on both sides of our border," said Elyse Golob, director of the University of Arizona Office of Economic and Policy Analysis. "We expect this consortium to be a national asset in security research, education and training."

The announcement was made at ComDef Tucson 2006, an international conference in Arizona on technologies for border security, defense and commerce.

SBSC member institutions are UTSA, Arizona State University, University of Arizona, New Mexico State University, New Mexico Tech, University of New Mexico, San Diego State University, Texas A&M Engineering and University of Texas at El Paso.

Retired Lt. Gen. Lawson Magruder, executive director of the UTSA Institute for the Protection of American Communities (IPAC), said SBSC expects to play a national leadership role in addressing border issues by offering a comprehensive, multi-institutional set of capabilities to relevant agencies such as the U.S. Departments of Homeland Security, Defense, Energy and Transportation.

"The issues are complex and by no means limited to security concerns," he said. "Maintaining a free flow of commerce, sustaining our natural resources, addressing the unique health and educational needs of our border region -- these are concerns on both sides of the international boundary. By drawing on the resources and expertise of nine research universities located in the border region, we believe we can become a leading resource on these issues."

Capabilities of the SBSC institutions span a range of areas relevant to border and homeland security issues including:

  • Agricultural and supply-chain security
  • Behavioral and social aspects of terrorism and counterterrorism
  • Bioscience, biotechnology and public health
  • Critical infrastructure and natural resources protection
  • Cyber and information security
  • Detection and surveillance
  • Educational outreach, training and technical assistance
  • Emergency management and response
  • Energetic materials research and testing
  • Intelligent transportation design and traffic surveillance
  • Legal infrastructures
  • Multimodal transportation security
  • Regional and cultural issues
  • Trans-border economic, legal, political, policy and trade issues
  • Social modeling and analysis

"As state universities located in these four border states, we have a deep-rooted commitment to the safety and prosperity of our region," said Robert Silver, senior strategic director at the New Mexico State University Physical Science Laboratory. "This strategic collaboration will enable us to use our collective resources in an integrated, seamless approach to research and development, testing and evaluation, and training. We also will be able to interface with Mexican stakeholders on border issues."

Bob Welty, director of homeland security projects for the San Diego State University Research Foundation, said this wide array of capabilities will allow SBSC to take a leadership role in providing solutions to border security issues at the local, state, regional and national levels.

"Through this consortium, the expertise of these nine research universities can be focused on providing quick-response analysis and solutions to technical and policy challenges," Welty said.

SBSC also will serve as a national clearinghouse for information on border security issues and conduct seminars, workshops and conferences.

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