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Arts & Culture

Only Here Podcast: The Unpredictable Beast Of A Border Line And A Tech Entrepreneur Trying To Tame It

Cars wait in traffic at the San Ysidro Port of Entry in this photo taken in December, 2019.
Kinsee Morlan
Cars wait in traffic at the San Ysidro Port of Entry in this photo taken in December, 2019.
The line of cars and people waiting to cross the San Ysidro Port of Entry is so big — so long — it’s got its own gravitational pull. It’s created this whole world of its own, an ecosystem that swirls all around it. A shorter line would be a thing of beauty. The long line is actually a problem that the federal governments and local business leaders on both sides of the border are trying to solve. Because the border equals money. In this episode, we bring you sounds from the border line, then take you to the Border Innovation Challenge at UC San Diego. After that, we introduce you to Cheslav Versky, a tech entrepreneur who won the Border Innovation Challenge and is now working on installing a system that would collect detailed border-crossing data at a level it's never been collected before.

Over 100,000 people cross through the San Ysidro Port of Entry on the San Diego-Tijuana border every single day. It’s the most-crossed border in the Western Hemisphere.

There are currently 62 inspection booths, one dedicated bus lane, two different pedestrian crossings, and 34 vehicle lanes at the San Ysidro Port of Entry. But it seems like no matter how many lanes are open or how many border agents are on duty, it’s just never enough. And when there’s an incident and someone is caught doing something illegal — or even when someone who’s not doing anything wrong is sent to what’s called secondary inspection —delays happen.

In a new episode of "Only Here," a KPBS podcast about life at the U.S.-Mexico border, tech entrepreneur Cheslav Versky talks about his pitch to make the unpredictable border line more predictable. Versky is the winner of last year's Border Innovation Challenge, a competition organized by Rady School of Management, the Jacobs School of Engineering and the Smart Border Coalition.