Size Matters

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 22 September, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 22 September, 2009, 12:00am

Panic buttons coupled with global positioning satellite (GPS) transmitters seem to be among the most popular small and concealable contemporary protection devices that tycoons are availing themselves of, says former Navy Seal and Manila-based security professional Benjamin Lichtenberg.

Many modern tracking devices use GPS technology, and are typically placed within vehicles or on individuals. Hong Kong-based Bruce McLaren, co-founder of celebrity and VIP bodyguard specialists Signal 8, thinks such innovations help keep an eye on families of those who may be in danger - especially children. 'It's important to know where people are at all times,' he says.

Joe Wilson, managing director of the Aviation Services Asia Group Holdings, thinks tracking devices should be placed in vehicles at all times. 'Such items can also contain silent emergency [panic] buttons, so if there's a problem, you can raise the alarm without alerting your kidnappers,' he says. Tracking devices with GPS can be tiny enough to fit into pens, watches and belt buckles. GPS technology can ascertain a person, object or vehicle's location within two to three metres. The best part: 'The bad guys don't know they're being followed,' Wilson says.

McLaren touts an array of tiny covert cameras, used to monitor facilities and homes of the well-heeled, as a superb way to undertake counter surveillance and home protection. 'Entry system security is important because anyone can steal or copy a pass card, but retinal scanning or biometric measures are more sophisticated, so it's good to keep up with technology,' he says. 'If you can afford guards, surely you can afford a decent [security] system.'

While there are many weird and wonderful gadgets, perhaps the most important gizmos that security personnel always use and that are essential for protecting clients are immediate communication radios. McLaren says walkie-talkies are indispensable.

However, protection against imminent death and/or grievous bodily harm requires tougher, albeit surprisingly wearable measures - quite literally. 'These days you can get bulletproof vests that look like any normal piece of clothing,' says Wilson, and 'they're lightweight, thin and discreet, and look like any polo shirt'.

For those who feel 'the best defence is offence' and seek to be more proactive in their protection, short of firearms, they can also carry pepper spray or a taser (stun gun) which sometimes look just like or are built into a mobile phone. They are small, effective and easily deployed.

'Tycoons typically don't like to carry stuff; they want to delegate their security to others and have them carry stuff so they can live a somewhat normal life,' Wilson says.