My only question is, then why did they shut them down on Nov. 30? ------------------------------------------ http://www.mysanantonio.com/news/metro/stories/MYSA121106.01A.border_webcam.323e8ed.html Border webcams rack up millions of hits in a month Web Posted: 12/10/2006 11:52 PM CST Sig Christenson Express-News Military Writer A monthlong "stress test" of Gov. Rick Perry's border Web camera network has ended, with state officials Sunday touting it as a success beyond anyone's dreams. The network of eight cameras dotting South Texas linked to a state Web site a setup that cost around $210,000. It netted 27.9 million hits and a handful of arrests. "It was successful at a number of levels," said Robert Black, a spokesman for the governor. "Certainly it has allowed us to put a spotlight on an issue that is very important to Texans and the country, and that is border security." Texans first logged on to the site, www.texasborderwatch.com , starting Nov. 3, only days before the election. The cameras showed what appeared to be still images, including one of a parking lot, a lake and the front license plate of a car. The system was closed Nov. 30. The San Antonio Express-News reported the program's debut, and a version of the article appeared on the Drudge Report. It remained on Drudge's Web site for several days. "The second day we were getting 775,000 hits per hour," said Texas Homeland Security Director Steve McCraw, who has overseen the system's development. McCraw said the most hits came from Texas, with residents in Houston, Dallas, Austin and San Antonio logging on most often. California, New York and Florida followed, and even some overseas hits were recorded, one of them from France. In all, 221,562 viewers registered at the site, receiving logon codes and passwords, and more than 13,000 e-mails were received. The governor's $5 million "virtual border watch" program was unveiled here June 1, with Perry pledging to have the webcams up in a month. But officials opted against building the webcam network under an existing AT&T contract after receiving two legal opinions. The state has delayed plans to issue technical specifications for a permanent system while it incorporates lessons learned and viewer comments into the border webcam blueprint. McCraw said those specifications would be released once details are ironed out, and he said the new system wouldn't be up before Jan. 31. Two unresolved issues are the system's cost and the number of cameras it will use. Officials had considered installing 50 to 70 cameras from Brownsville to El Paso, but McCraw said that could rise to 200 because of demand. Still, there were no blockbuster busts during the brief trial. A stolen car was recovered, and 12 undocumented immigrants were detained on separate occasions at different places along the border In the biggest case, 432 pounds of marijuana was seized in a pickup after a high-speed chase into Del Rio. The incident began around 3 a.m. Nov. 28 after a woman watching a camera posted along U.S. 277 in rural Val Verde County saw the truck and someone signaling it. She reported it by e-mail, and the chase ensued after U.S. Border Patrol agents confronted the driver. The sheriff's office said the driver escaped on foot. The system is set up so anyone seeing criminal activity can report it via e-mail. The message is routed to the state's operations center in Austin and local law enforcement officers. Webcams are to be placed at 13 "primary-threat" border crossing points with a history of drug-running and human smuggling. Others will be in 16 border transit zones with lesser criminal activity. Cameras also will operate along highways, at rest stops or near inspection stations. About 30 cameras will remain in one place, while most will be mobile, shifting to areas where illegal activity has been reported. McCraw said the system changes the dynamics of what a neighborhood watch can be in high-crime or rural areas, and he cautioned that its effectiveness can't be judged on the number of arrests during the test period. "This is about prevention, not solving crimes after the fact," he said.