Border Security

Drug Mules

Border Security seems to be on everyone’s mind recently so I figured I would cover this topic slightly…….Since we have been assisting countries secure and monitor their borders all over the world for over a decade now, we are asked about what is really going on at the US border. .

“Is it as bad as some say or not?”
Short answer – it has been bad for quite some time and it’s only getting worse. Over the years the dynamics have drastically changed at the border. No longer is it only an issue of just illegal immigration – its drug trafficking, firearm trafficking, human smuggling, money trafficking and the list goes on.
If you have spent any time on the border – one thing becomes crystal clear….It’s no place to spend time and the border agents have their work cut out.
The agents we deal with daily are great people, they are very committed to doing what they can with the tools they have. They are forced to deal with a very diverse and complex problem, every shift. Maybe they are going to apprehend drug cartel or MS13 members, have a high speed chase or respond to a rescue beacon, they just never know.

Rescue Beacon in the middle of the AZ desert

How have we helped?
Our wireless systems have brought an entirely new level of monitoring and response for border agents and border police worldwide.
Different countries do have specific goals/directives but regardless, we have been able to assist them in meeting and exceeding those goals. One of the biggest advantages to our systems is we can be extremely fluid with software/hardware to meet certain requirements that may only apply to a single country. I can’t go into detail for security reasons, but lets just say we assist them in ways that only we can and only our system can perform in ways they require..

Stop Responding Blind

The BuckEye Cam Tactical site’s the moto is “Don’t Respond Blind”.

We actually came up with that tag after we heard what agents were saying. As countries switched to our wireless cameras and sensors for their border monitoring, the first thing we heard was they no longer respond blindly. At first we were a little perplexed as to what they meant but quickly understood as we discussed it in detail.

Prior to implementing our systems, agents would get a notification from a field sensor that something “triggered it”. Think of being an agent and getting a text saying sensor 341 was triggered – that’s all you get…. Say the sensor was 45 miles from your current location and now you have to respond without knowing what triggered the sensor. So you drive for an hour and half, arrive and see if you can figure out what triggered the sensor. Was it an animal, false trigger or was it a “bad guy”?
Since you didn’t receive any other information other than that you had to figure it out on your own by searching for clues at location.
It was a very archaic and the agents were becoming very complacent with sensor “triggers” as more times than not it was an animal or a false trigger (rain/weather for example).
So once agents started using our BuckEye Cam wireless system, they were no longer responding blind. They knew the instant they received the notification from their BuckEye Cams how they would respond because they had a picture or video included. The system took all the guesswork out of what was triggering their sensors. Many agents have told us our systems have put the excitement and drive back into their jobs.
As you can imagine, it’s very difficult to remain excited about responding to “another unknown sensor trigger” when you don’t know what set it off. So after a while you just lose interest in the sensors because they were always crying wolf.
Once they first started using the BuckEye Cam System and began actually SEEING what was triggering sensors they told us it was a paradigm shift. All of the sudden they were “back in the game”. They were excited to know what they were responding to and were prepared when they arrived.
The other side of this was they were now able to weed out all the “no response needed” triggers which ended up saving them countless hours and hundreds of miles traveled every week.
I can’t tell you how many agents have told us this same scenario over and over and over with great excitement. They were extremely motivated to be back in the game.

They also explained to us the advantage of our systems over their fixed tower systems they currently used. Basically, the fixed tower systems are just that, fixed.. The cameras on those towers can pan tilt and zoom and see for miles, but they can’t be moved. They typically had operators on the other end monitoring them 24/7 constantly viewing them waiting for something to happen.
As we have been told on numerous occasions to defeat the camera towers, you need 1 guy with a radio and decent set of binoculars. He waits for the camera to “look away” and then they call in the crossing.
The difference with our portable systems is they can be constantly moved around or they can sit in an area you just never know where they are. They can sit undisturbed, patiently waiting for months with no activity, then when the activity starts, agents get notified immediately. This ability gives the agents a huge advantage of the unknown…. Maybe there are cameras hidden on the obscure trail in the middle of the mountains or maybe not. The more cameras the agents have deployed, the more advantage they have – the can see travel direction, speed, number of people in the group – are they armed, carrying drugs, etc. you get the picture – literally.

BuckEye Cam Wireless Systems

A Different Company

I get asked all the time about our company, how long have we been in business, how big our we, how many employees do we have and so on. 

We are a small company located in Athens Ohio or “Appalachia” as it is known.
We have been in business since the mid 80’s and are a SBA and HUBZONE company..
We have 13 full time employees, Mike Hart, being the newest guy with just over 2 months of service and Eric Householder being here the longest at just over 22 years. 
With only a couple of exceptions, people who come to work for ATSI tend to stay here for a very long time. For example, prior to Mike Hart coming to work for us, Levi Boring was the last “new guy” being here just over 3 1/2 years.  Hailee has over 5 years, and the rest of the employee pool ranges from 10 years to 22 years of service. So as you can see people stay with the company for a very long time. 

We run a very tight, relaxed, drama free ship here…. Sounds strange, but everyone here knows their job (very well!) and basically sets their own schedule. We are highly productive without all the hype and stress. It is a very unique place to work and that isn’t by accident but rather by design.

Engineers…. 

Our Electrical Engineering staff consists of Jeff McKnight (EE) – SR Engineering Manager and Genna Kiryukhin (EE). Both of our engineers are highly educated (Graduates of Ohio University and both hold Masters Degrees) with over 55 years combined actual engineering experience.  This is how we write our own code, design and develop our own products from start to finish. This means our products remain up to date unlike other manufacturers that take a design and then just build it. We take a design and make that a starting point not the finish line. By keeping our product fluid, we can improve as we go in most cases without having to change any hardware. This process keeps us ahead of the curve not behind the curve. 

Our most senior staff member is Eric householder. Eric plays a vital role in our company managing inventory flow, invoicing, as well as engineering and production support. Basically nothing comes in or goes out without Eric’s stamp on it….

Steven Beckner handles the majority of the tester calibration, service and repair. Steven also assist with BuckEye Cam products and MAC assistance when needed. The test equipment side of things keeps Steven extremely busy. 

Tim Smith have been with the company going on 17 years now. Tim is over our IT dept, writes all the MAC code and also assists Steven with tester calibration and service.

 Ben Hartley handles Test Equipment Sales and most of the Overseas sales for BuckEye Cam. Ben started with the company over 20 years ago and has worked up from a technician’s position into sales. Ben is one of 3 sales people we have on staff so if you call in for sales there is a good chance you will speak to Ben. 

Hailee Hart also handles Test Equipment sales, BuckEye Cam sales as well as service orders too. She also assists in production when needed at times too… If you call in, there is a good chance you will speak with Hailee. 

Becky White also does BuckEye Cam Sales (US and Foreign Government orders GSA, fedbid, etc.). She also helps in production when needed (everyone gets to help in production from time to time!).  

Becky and Hailee

Tom Spiller, Levi Boring and Mike Hart all work mainly on the BuckEye Cam side of things. Handling production, service and the nationwide BuckEye Cam setups.
They all work together making sure production requirements are being met while taking care of service and troubleshooting when needed. 

Levi and Tom

As for me?
I just ride around on a horse looking at my phone….

(kidding…. this is not me, my horse or my phone in this picture)

LiveCam

BuckEye Cam first launched LiveCam in early 2006. We had this concept earlier but took some time to develop – as things do. It’s funny because the first thing we discovered after launching the site was our system was on full display for everyone to see. Most standard cameras have always had the luxury of keeping their “flaws” private. I mean to say that once you start automatically posting every single picture from your entire camera system online, publicly, you have zero opportunity to hide from the crowd. You better be confident in your system if you are going to do this.

What is LiveCam?
livecam
LiveCam is a service that we offer to our current BuckEye Cam customers. The LiveCam service is basically a hosting server for them to have their pictures and videos automatically uploaded to their own “site”. Customers can customize their LiveCam site to suit their needs including username and password protected so no one else can view their cameras. It’s a really cool site and since it automatic the user doesn’t need to do anything other than check their pictures and videos anytime and from anywhere in the world.
LiveCam automatically uploads the latest pictures from each and every camera the user wants uploaded. It makes it extremely easy for them to view their entire system from anywhere or any device at any time. If you go to this LiveCam page you will see a list of cameras with some dates, times and a brief description. Each camera has been selected by the user to be uploaded (you can select all or any of your cameras). The ability to select only the cameras you want keeps the ones you want private, private.
You can click on each camera and see the most recent pictures from each camera. LiveCam accounts are setup with a limited number of pictures per camera (300 per camera for example) so you can see the most recent 300 pictures from each camera. As new pictures come in they will be automatically uploaded to the site so the user doesn’t need to do a thing.
Users can also create alias accounts for short term use in the event they want to give access to someone for a limited time (like a building or construction site for example). Then when they are ready to shut it down they can shut down their alias account and go back to using their private account with private access.

NO PLACE TO HIDE!
Like I stated in the beginning, even before we started offering LiveCam just offering a wireless camera system there was no place to hide. Unlike traditional cameras where the pictures are stored on a SD and may not be viewed for weeks or months in some cases, wireless systems have no place to hide. I mean if our system doesn’t work the customers know that day – or that hour. You are held to a completely different standard with wireless – the system has to run 24/7-365 period with no exceptions. If any part of the system doesn’t work the user knows immediately.We can’t tell them to “just put your camera out and check it in a month”. Nope they are going to check in a minute, so it better work…. and it better keep working…
What this has done for us?
It has forced us to continuously improve.  It keeps us honest and that has worked great for us and even better for our customers!

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Wireless “Repeating”

We commonly refer to it as repeating but what do we really mean? What is really happening and why would you ever want to repeat?

Repeating is necessary when your “signal” to the base directly may be poor or non existent. So you create a “hop” by repeating from one device to get the signal back to the base.  In the example image below, Camera 2 is “Repeating” through Echo 3 back to the base.  The advantages of repeating are that you can increase your coverage area and build a much larger network. The way the BuckEye Cam System repeats and handles the communication is probably a little different than you might expect. Naturally you would think that repeating would increase the transmission times significantly but you might be surprised to learn it really doesn’t.  If it normally takes 17 seconds to transmit directly to the base you would expect it to take 34 seconds to add a single “hop” but because we considered that in our design in reality it will only take about 20 seconds (roughly adds about 20% per “hop”). So your transmission “distance” is really only limited to the last device on your network – you could literally repeat for miles and miles and miles.

Why is the transmit speed so important?
Rule of thumb is to limit the number of “hops” to as few as possible – “always best to go directly to the base”. We say this because as you build your network of devices (Cameras, Echos, Feeders, Controllers and so on) transmission times become very important and every second counts. In order for the network to stay agile and fast so you don’t end up with a continuous backlog of picture we take every possible advantage to insure we cut every second we can in the communication protocols. The faster the cameras can transmit means the quicker the camera can go back to “sleep” which means the longer the battery will last and battery life is extremely important.

As more and more companies come out and try to compete, my guess is you will see more and more companies find out quickly that true wireless communication is not as simple as they once thought. Then our BuckEye Cam features start quickly adding up and understanding the advanced protocol and engineering we are using becomes more prevalent.

“There’s many a reason why BuckEye Cam’s aren’t cheap”………

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Camera 2 “Repeating” through Echo 3 to the Base