No one doubts that the conduct of global business – and hence international business travel – has expanded dramatically over the last decade. That same time also saw some gigantic advances in technology.


Today’s security executive has to manage the additional challenges new technology brings, on top of protecting his people traveling around the world – and the list of locations to which multinationals travel continues to grow. And to make sure the CSO is continually challenged, various pieces of legislation, industry standards and best practices have arisen around corporate global travel in recent years. Concepts like Duty of Care and Standard of Care, as well as the U.K. Corporate Manslaughter Act, came to the table and are here to stay.

Two important concepts that every CSO should understand are:

  1. 1. Technology may be a great enabler, but it’s never the solution. A well-designed corporate travel security policy that integrates and is supported by technology is more important to have in place first.
  2. 2. Technology should be introduced to address a requirement or to solve a need. Without a clearly defined requirement, the technology means listed below would prove nothing more than cool gadgets or – even worse – just a check in the box.

Available Technology

New technology becomes available almost daily, adding to the plethora of technology CSOs already use to ensure the safety and security of traveling personnel. This includes:

– Ensuring that corporate travelers have the training they need to use the technology they’re equipped with is probably the most important step a CSO can take. Making sure that global road warriors are tech-savvy and security conscious can be challenging but is well worth the effort. Arming your travelers with the know-how to use technology like Skype or Twitter if other means are unavailable is a prudent approach. Recently in Egypt, a traveler ended up in trouble and had time to text one word – “arrested” – to his Twitter network, which led to corporate security becoming involved very quickly. Training travelers on the importance of encryption and/or authentication, for example, or the value of storing data on a flash drive rather than on a laptop can save a CSO headaches and money in the long term.

Medical Records
– Access to medical history, medical conditions, allergies, blood type, etc. can be crucial during a medical emergency abroad. Storage devices can vary, from credit card types to flash drives.

GPS Tracking
– GPS tracking has grown by leaps and bounds, and tracking devices can be found in everything from handhelds and mobile phones to vehicles and laptops – even in sneakers.

Emergency Communication
– It doesn’t matter whether a traveler carries a mobile or satellite phone, Blackberry or other device. What does matter is the ability to establish communication during an emergency – in both directions. A pre-programmed hot button or emergency number and the ability to communicate using multiple means, including voice and text – and to do so around the globe – are all functionalities that CSOs should strive for.

Traveler Tracking
– The ability to capture a traveler’s itinerary through automated means to allow the home office and/or corporate security to track employees has become standard for multinationals. Value-add functionality that transmits timely threat intelligence to travelers based on itinerary, or allows the home office to communicate with travelers using the tracking application, is crucial. A system that would give corporate security or travel additional capabilities – such as seeing when more than a certain number of company employees book the same flight or being alerted when travelers book trips to high-risk destinations – is even better.

A Layered Approach

As with any other facet of security, a layered approach is the most appropriate when dealing with the use of technology in ensuring the security of global travelers. Just as not all corporate employees need executive protection, not all employees need to be tracked via GPS. At a base level, technology such as traveler tracking can be used at all employment levels within an organization while additional layers of technology – such as GPS tracking – can be added for critical or high-value employees.

The Off Button

It is important to note, however, that technology has limitations. Corporate security professionals should ensure that they know and understand the limits of the technology used in the safeguarding of traveling personnel. Such knowledge will improve a CSO’s understanding of how he or she can leverage technology to secure global


About the Source

As director of operations at iJET Intelligent Risk Systems, Johan Selle provides advice and guidance to clients on dealing with threats they face in global operations. A native of South Africa, Selle has 24 years of experience, including military intelligence service with the South African National Defense Force, specializing in overt collection of information in Africa. He is a former director for Africa at Open Source Solutions.