Apex security company keeps virtual eye on Sochi visitors
Posted February 7
Updated February 8
Wake County, N.C. — Inside the operations center at TigerSwan, a global security company headquartered in Apex, employees keep an eye on satellite images and the news while keeping a virtual eye on their customers.
Their clients wear GPS devices that let TigerSwan staffers, all of whom have a military or police background, track them anywhere in the world.
“We can tell what’s around them within 3 feet of them on the ground,” company owner James Reese said.
On Friday, employees were looking at a vivid satellite image of the Olympic stadium in Sochi. A red pinpoint showed the real-time movements of a client.
“That’s why we call it ‘guardian angel,’ because you imagine one sitting on your shoulder, just watching down,” Reese said. “It’s a different world after 9/11.”
Reese is a former Delta Forces officer who retired and founded TigerSwan. The company runs a shooting range outside Fayetteville and provides security for business travelers and government officials in dangerous destinations.
"Over the last month, we’ve had a big uptick in clients that say, ‘Hey, we’re going to Sochi. We’ve got some concerns,’” Reese said.
TigerSwan has more than 100 commercial clients worldwide in places such as Afghanistan, Brazil and Egypt. Each one carries around the tracking device.
If something happens, they can press a panic button that allows TigerSwan workers to hear what’s happening. The company has teams of former police and military nearby who know the country.
"We don’t go charging in there,” Reese said. “The (teams) speak the language. They are talking with police, letting them know, ‘Hey, we got a client in there.’”
Brandon Hough, a staffer in TigerSwan's operations center, said he periodically checks in with clients to make sure everything is OK.
“Just to let them know that we’re watching,” he said. “It may be ‘Hey, everything looks good on our end. Make sure you charge your battery.’”
Reese won’t say how much the service costs, citing competition. But he notes that most of his clients work for small to medium-sized companies.