RICHMOND, Calif. - In a story you'll see only on ABC7 News, the CEO of a company in Richmond revealed Wednesday a desire to build a virtual wall to keep people with criminal records out of the United States.
The building of a physical barrier between the United States and Mexico is one of President Donald Trump's signature promises.
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"I would say its an alternative," Simularity Co-founder and CEO Liz Derr said.
Derr knew that putting her company's name on the federal list of firms offering to help build President Trump's border wall was a risky move.
But the founder and CEO of the small Richmond startup stands by it, although she doesn't support a brick and mortar wall. "We are very pro-immigration and very pro-diversity, but if the government is trying to do something to secure the border, we wanted to offer a cost-effective and more technically effective solution, so we don't waste taxpayers dollars," Derr said.
Simularity is an artificial intelligence and software company that combines digital imagery from satellites and drones, with micro computers and sensors to detect changes, for instance on a border. "And looks for patterns that might indicate human trafficking, weapons trafficking, drug smuggling, even terrorist activity that may be coming towards a border," Derr said.
The current government estimate to build a 2,000-mile wall along the Mexico border is nearly $22 billion. Derr said her virtual system would cost millions.
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In the meantime, city leaders in Oakland, Berkeley and San Francisco have initiated boycotts of all companies on the federal list, even minority or women-owned firms like Simularity. "We stand with the principles of the cities that are boycotting people on the list, but we feel what we're doing is much more secure and is actually finding the bad guys," Derr said.
Of the 600 companies on the federal list, 100 are in California and about two dozen are in the Bay Area.