San Diego – Tijuana Smart Border Coalition

The Smart Border Coalition (smartbordercoalition.com) is a hybrid binational, bilingual organization consisting of 25 members and hundreds of Stakeholders. It is non-commercial, non-partisan, independent, and self-funded. 

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Since 2007 it has worked to make travel and trade easier and more efficient through the ports of entry between San Diego County and the Tijuana Metropolitan Area. 

The coalition provides guidance to all port of entry users. It brings forward ideas to 

reconceptualize the border in the interest of prosperity and security. It identifies challenges and 

provides frameworks for dialog, information sharing, the building of professional relationships, 

the development of specific initiatives, and the monitoring of implementation. In some cases, 

the coalition assumes an informal short- or medium-term governance role vis-à-vis 

governments, quasi-governmental organizations, companies, and civil society groups. 

Our programs are as follows: 

  • Six Stakeholder and six Coalition Member meetings per year, alternating between San Diego and Tijuana. The meetings provide the only regular binational border forum. Agendas include reports and wide-ranging expert presentations on coalition activities and issues, projects, situations, and other items associated with the ports of entry. 
  • The Smart Border Coalition website. A free public website, designed with English- and Spanish-language content to help improve the user experience at the region’s border crossings. Previously, border crossers did not have access to a single source aggregating the information most relevant to navigating crossings while minimizing potential difficulties. 
  • Coordinated, multifaceted initiatives designed ultimately to improve users’ border crossing experience and reduce impacts around the ports of entry. Detailed descriptions are available on the coalition website. 

Smart Border Coalition identified several opportunity areas for growth in 2020, including connecting with key sectors to expand our influence; facilitating valuable information to navigate the border by way of smart technology solutions for industry and travelers; leveraging key allies–board members in particular—to galvanize our efforts; and continuing with our mission to make travel and trade easier, with an emphasis on Mexican side of the border with authorities responsible for port and surrounding area infrastructure. 

In terms of our priority objectives, infrastructure advocacy is a key component. We will advocate for the prioritization and construction of the Otay Mesa East Port of Entry, the full go- ahead for the Tecate rail crossing, and the completion of the Puerta de México demolition for northbound lane openings. A second objective is data innovation for our border. We must have a better way to understand the status at our border at any given time. A dashboard of key information will be a useful way to achieve this. In addition, we believe in facilitating border crossing software applications to serve the travel and planning needs of crossers and cargo.

Increasingly, hands-on civic participation in developing ideas and initiatives to make our international ports of entry “smarter” can move governments and agencies to action. Our Members’ and Stakeholders’ time and resources are critical to facilitating, catalyzing, and driving change for the success of our ports. Over time, incremental changes to the ports and surrounding areas will add up to major breakthroughs contributing to achieving our vision of becoming the most innovative border in the world. 

For more information please contact Gustavo De La Fuente, executive director, at gdelafuente@smartbordercoalition.com or (619) 814-1386

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