Behind an intentionally understated and unmarked office facade at a secret location in San Jose, Troy Coleman conducts his business of protecting some of California’s most beloved VIPs and celebs. Troy, an ex Alameda County sheriff and Military Policeman, has been involved in security details for such notables as Bill Clinton, Michael Jackson, and Apple Incorporated. His security firm, Coleman Security and Investigations, is comprised of ex-military personnel and police officers, and he graciously revealed the true location of his office in order for me to come in and ask him questions about how technology has changed the private security and surveillance industry.
The conversation ranged from the use of infrared goggles for night assignments to the increasing threat to privacy that modern technology poses to individuals, and what resulted was a highly entertaining list of app wishes by Troy that he would like to see as part of future security teams.
Let’s get started then.
App #1: “An app that could help a security team track clients with a tracking device concealed in some sort of ring, pendant, or other object”
Well Troy, this one exists, kind of. The next two apps come from the realm of super-concerned parenthood. You’d have to have a pendant that looks like this:
“The eZoom is a small device that can be placed into your child’s backpack or permanently mounted in the car. Using your PC and smartphone, you can check your child’s location, create “safe” zones that will alert you if the device leaves these areas and even monitor the speed of the car your child in which your child is riding.” Price $99 Source: Mashable
There is also the PocketFinder, another GPS tracking option that offers the same features, and works with a complementary iOS or android app. The unit is customizable to turn on the tracking function at certain times of the day to conserve valuable battery life. Price: $150.
App #2: “An app that could be used to sweep a room for bugs”
One concern that Troy raised is that it is increasingly hard to keep trade secrets and remain completely private as a celebrity or executive in today’s world, with all sorts of crazy hidden camera and listening devices available on the market. I couldn’t find an app that wasn’t getting awful reviews, and it seems that the few apps that claim to be able to detect bugs are just toys, kind of like “babe detector” or sobriety test apps. I did find an informative wikiHow article on the several ways in which you can detect bugs. One of the methods is buying a professional radio frequency detector, which range from $200- $3000, but there were also a couple of interesting manual techniques. Take a look at this gem:
A disadvantage to this method of manually detecting the glint in a pinhole camera’s lens is that, if there is indeed a pinhole camera, it will capture you looking like a raving lunatic.
Another method of bug detection described in the article did involve a cellphone, whereby the person wishing to detect a bug waves a cellphone that is connected to a call near the suspected area. A series of clicking sounds will indicate radio interference to the call and could possibly indicate an actively transmitting bug.
App #3: “An app that would improve communication between members of a security team”
I’ve actually used Apple’s Facetime app combined with a dashboard iPhone mount (the #iOttie) to provide a live video feed of what I was seeing out of my windshield to my dad, as I drove around showing him the neighborhood that I just moved into. I felt pretty cool, but be warned: This racks up cellular data pretty quickly.
App #4: A facial recognition app linked to a private database.
The scenario (privacy advocates, take a deep breath): VIP guests are mingling at an event. Tragedy strikes. One of the guests is down. A security team member runs up to the fallen, snaps a photo of the person’s face, and is presented with an ID of the victim from the firm’s own database, including important medical information that can be passed on to the emergency services crew.
Facial recognition is a touchy area for consumers and developers. Google announced in June that it would be banning facial recognition apps due to privacy concerns, but that hasn’t stopped hackers from giving Google Glass this capability.
Face.com has developed an app for iOS and android that recognizes the user’s Facebook friends, so theoretically one could use that app for the above scenario as long as the customer agreed to become Facebook friends with the protective services company.