Congressman Collin Peterson to Attend Kickoff of CBP Pilot Project at NW Angle | Walleye Fishing
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Congressman Collin Peterson to Attend Kickoff of CBP Pilot Project at NW Angle

Published By OutdoorsFIRST Media
Published August 17, 2017

Gone are the days when a visitor to Minnesota's NW Angle who travels into Canada to fish, hunt or have a shore lunch has to travel an extra 16 miles round trip at the end of the day to check back into the United States at an outdated OARS phone.  The new solution, which is phase one of the pilot project lead by U.S. Customs and Border Protection, is simply to head back to one of the many Lake of the Woods resorts participating in the pilot project and check in on an I pad.   This process is safer, more convenient and enables those involved in this process, whether it is a visitor, U.S. Customs officer, Border Patrol and others to achieve their objectives quicker, safer and more effectively.

To say just about everyone is excited for the new changes within this pilot is an understatement.  In celebration of the new way visitors can check in to U.S. Customs, Congressman Collin Peterson will be attending and speaking at an special kickoff event up at the NW Angle on Monday, August 21st at 1pm.  This combination press conference / celebration is open to the public.  Also attending this kickoff event will be top leadership from CBP (Customs and Border Protection) from both Seattle and Washington D.C., various media, resort owners, guides, residents and other interested parties.  This event is open to the public.

Peterson was instrumental in communicating the need for changes to leadership at CBP and others.  Also showing strong support for the change were U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar, U.S. Senator Al Franken and Congressman Rick Nolan.  All signed a letter showing support utilizing technology for a safer, more effective and user friendly option.  And here we are!

As mentioned, phase one of the project allows visitors to check in at a participating resort on an I pad.  In the comfort of a resort, simply enter your personal info, answer a few questions and request a video conference with an officer.  After a brief meeting, the officer will clear or deny your access.

Phase two of the project will be the ability of travelers to load that same program on the I pads at the resorts on to your smartphone via Google Play Store and Apple App Store.

Phase three will be replacing the current outdated OARS phones located at Jim's Corner, Young's Bay and Carlson's Landing, all on the mainland of the NW Angle called Angle Inlet.  OARS phone, NW Angle, Lake of the Woods

The OARS phones are literally 1970's technology and are housed in rustic sheds or phone booth type configurations.  Replacing the OARS phones will be the I pads housed in a shed with heat, air conditioning and the ability to get out of the elements while checking into customs.  As beautiful and special this area is, some of the locations are susceptible to -30 air temps, snow, rain, mosquitoes and horse flies.

This past weekend, CBP had OIT (IT professionals) do a soft launch at six of the over dozen resorts who will be taking part in phase one.  The intent was to identify and fix as many issues as possible.  With new software, we knew there would be issues.  There were a number of fixes identified and most already fixed.

CBP actually communicated with travelers up at the Angle advising them of the new program and encouraging them to use the new pilot project to check in vs thNorthernmost marker, NW Angle, Lake of the Woodse existing OARS phones simply to get as much traffic as possible through the devices and software which enables IT folks, resorters, visitors and CBP personnel the chance to better identify possible fixes needed.  That strategy proved effective and CBP personnel are very encouraged about the first go around with the pilot.

This Monday's kick off event will slowly begin to put to bed frustrations  many shared about challenges in the "check in" process when entering the U.S.  A special thank you to all involved who worked hard in getting the Lake of the Woods area to this point in taking part in this pilot project for the entire U.S. to see.