It is an all too familiar scene. Long queues of people and vehicles waiting to cross a border, paperwork all in a flutter and stony-faced customs officials rummaging through belongings and peering into the backs of lorries. A question on many minds is whether technology can do away with such perturbations. And the answer is yes….For remote borders with little or no infrastructure, there are various techniques that can keep an eye, or rather an ear, out. QinetiQ, a British firm, has a system called OptaSense, which uses a fiber-optic cable laid in the ground. Sound from above creates vibrations in this cable. These affect its light-carrying properties. Those changes can be detected at a distance by shining a laser through the cable. The equipment is sensitive enough to discriminate between the sounds made by different types of vehicle, such as a tractor or a lorry, and to detect people walking about.
Technology could make a hard border disappear, but at a cost
Economist February 14, 2019