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Could Donald Trump's USA-Mexico 'wall' be built by Gloucestershire business?

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Written by: The Business | Posted 12 February 2017 10:53

Could Donald Trump's USA-Mexico 'wall' be built by Gloucestershire business?

When it first crossed our radar we could not believe the rumours – a British company could be in-line to build President Donald Trump's wall between the USA and Mexico.

Closer inspection revealed talk of a firm which builds not physical walls, but is an established provider of the kind of border security which would seem like science fiction to most people.

It technology – such as its EdgeVis Shield and ThruVis products – can and have been employed by military forces and border controls around the world and there seems little reason to see why they would not indeed offer at least part of a solution to President Trump's 2,000 mile-long problem.

We happen to know that tests of the technology – which can detect human movement across entire border areas, deliver imagery and exact locations with near pin-point accuracy – has been tested in Gloucestershire.

And although the firm, Digital Barriers, is listed on the AIM market in London, its beating heart is in Gloucestershire, its vice president a former Gloucester schoolboy who has moved back to his roots after a career in the military.

"I went to Sir Tommy Rich's School then did an in-service degree in military telecoms communications engineer. I have been with Digital Barriers for a number of years now and have built a team up in Gloucester which is based around the solutions part of the business with responsibility for putting together tests for the group," said Neil Hendry.

That group being a company which works seamlessly, but through acquisition is operates around the world and interestingly – with a certain high-profile project in mind – has just taken over an American company.

"We won't be discussing, and never have discussed, if we are in talks with US border control authorities, and any other border authorities – as this would be confidential information. Regardless, if we did win a deal, as a listed company we would have to announce the win on the RNS," said a spokesman.

Digital Barriers last full-year accounts show a turnover of £21.1m with international revenues increasing by 113 per cent to £15.1m and that aforementioned solution division seeing growth of 53 per cent to £18.2 million. More rapid growth is expected.

It was formed in 2009 after now senior board members Tom Black, Zak Doffman and Colin Evans sold a previous business - specialist security consultant Detica – to BAE Systems for £531m in July 2008.

Fourteen to fifteen acquisitions later, not to mention USA-based Brimtek Inc, it today operates in the EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa), from regional offices in London, Nice and Dubai, Asia-Pacific, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Seoul, the Americas and from offices in Ashburn, in the Washington DC Metropolitan – and Gloucester.

Rumours are the estimated cost of a 55ft high wall – some have reported £8blln – have prompted the search for alternative solutions. Which is why Digital Barriers name has been linked to the tale.

Underground sensors and long-range cameras come in at a fraction of the cost.

It is understood its EdgeVis Shield technology has been trialled in American border state Arizona.

The screw-shaped Unattended Ground Sensor (UGS) is buried but processes seismic technology so advanced it can differentiate between small animals, vehicles and humans as well as tunnelling activity.

One every hundred metres is enough with alerts going direct to central control rooms or border patrols. Cameras with ranges of many miles which can live-stream HD footage help make up the package.

Its ThruVis technology is a highly sensitive camera (as used by US Transport Security Administration) which works like an x-ray machine, but can detect non-metallic objects such as explosives.

"It is public record that we have won some pretty big defence contracts and a lot of the solutions we have created here have been born out of our work for those kinds of agencies," said Mr Hendry, who is married with two children and left the military a Captain.

Its 'solutions' have been used by British forces in the likes of Afghanistan and by the oil and gas industry, a sector some would say is close to Mr Trump's heart.

"The beauty of this system is that you can be spotted, perhaps some distance from the border itself, without knowing it's happened. This makes intelligence gathering and interception easy – and it will cost a fraction of the price, maybe five per cent, of building a physical wall," Digital Borders chief executive officer Zak Doffman is reported as saying.

But are they in talks with Mr Trump's people?

"We won't be discussing, and never have discussed, if we are in talks with US border control authorities, and any other border authorities – as this would be confidential information. Regardless, if we did win a deal, as a listed company we would have to announce the win on the RNS," said a spokesman.

Just like all concerned it is a case of 'watch this space'.

 

 

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