Chaos in Paris: An Origin Story of ProtectionManager

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Paris, the City of Light

People who excel at executive protection like to solve problems. Often, these problems are acute and require action here and now. Sometimes, the problems are just as important but require solutions that can take weeks, months, or even years to develop, test, and refine.

In November 2015, we were presented with a problem for which we had no quick answers. One of our protective teams was covering a CEO in Paris, where he was attending a conference with dozens of employees. Everything was going great until it wasn’t, and all hell broke loose as the City of Lights went through one of its darker moments. Suicide bombings and shootings erupted all over the French capital. 137 people died. The situation was chaotic.

Initially, we felt we had everything covered because our client was with our agents and in no immediate danger. However, when our team decided to evacuate the city with the client, as per agreed emergency protocols, the client refused to leave. What about the dozens of colleagues also in town who weren’t part of our protection team’s coverage? Why, he wondered, should he get out of harm’s way and leave everyone else behind, without even knowing where and how they were? Short answer: No way. He refused to leave.

We thus faced a set of acute problems that required immediate action. We had to keep the client safe — something we were, of course, prepared to do. And then we had to track down every single of the 30 or so other corporate employees that were also in Paris, make sure they were safe, and provide evacuation plans for each of them — something our team on the ground was not equipped to do. Luck was on our side, and after a lot of phone calls, GSOC support, intelligence gathering locally and from afar, waiting, hoping and praying — everyone got out safely.

While preparing the after-action review, we realized that we faced another more complex problem with no immediate solution. While our executive protection team was perfectly capable of handling security for the CEO in a crisis situation, they didn’t have the bandwidth to keep track of 30 other people in a pinch. Even determining where they were and if they were OK was a problem. So, we asked ourselves: how we could fix this problem to be sure we were better prepared should something happen again in the future?

Thus was born the idea for the Odin app, what is now the location tracking function in ProtectionManager. Its purpose is to give protective teams updated location information on the people we protect — including extended groups of people within an organization, not just the CEO. We wanted something that would work for people no matter where they went, so building an app for the phones everyone carries anyway was one requirement. We wanted it to work efficiently, so it wouldn’t drain phone batteries. And we wanted an emergency alert function, so clients could immediately get in touch with someone at our GSOC, a trained agent who can make things happen, in case they are in acute need for help.

It took longer and cost more than we thought it would, but we believe we have solved the problem that we first discovered in Paris back in 2015. EP teams can now keep track of large groups of key employees connected to the principal. Our tracking feature increases situational awareness for our protection teams, for our clients, and for other relevant stakeholders.

What’s more, this tracking feature, previously a standalone app called Odin, has now been integrated with a powerful dashboard and Advance, the app that brings advance work out of the era of notebooks and Manilla folders and into the digital age.

We think ProtectionManager solves a bigger problem for protection professionals than either Odin or Advance ever could on their own: how to bring the power of digital tools to the executive protection industry. ProtectionManager, the only app suite created by executive protection professionals for executive protection professionals, enables effective advances, powerful location tracking, and quick reporting. It improves communication between principals, others in client organizations, and protection teams — anywhere in the world. Now, protective agents and managers, GSOC staff, and other security professionals have one tool that can do more than Advance, Odin, and other tools, including lots of paper folders, could do on their own.

We hope ProtectionManager will help other executive protection professionals to solve at least some of the problems they face, so they can use more of their experience and creativity solving the acute problems that inevitably arise when least expected — without wasting bandwidth on organizing advance manuals and location tracking.

To learn more check out our website at https://protectionmanager.io

Written by

As CEO, Jared Van Driessche is responsible for strategic leadership and oversight of Asgard Technology Group and it's first app, ProtectionManager.

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