Best Practices for Journalists: Staying Safe and Identifying Physical Surveillance

22 Mar

If you were tasked with coming up with a list of some of the most dangerous, yet important professions in our society, you might immediately think of people such as police officers, firefighters, government agents and more. Though you might not necessarily think of it right away, journalism is a job that absolutely deserves a spot near the top of that collection.

Journalists are more than just people who collect, write and distribute information and other news items. They’re purveyors of the truth. They’re the champions of all that is right and honest. Journalists were deemed so important to society by our Founding Fathers that they were protected by the very first amendment to the Constitution. They’re essentially always operating with a target on their collective back as a result. Journalists are regularly under physical surveillance in today’s society by everyone from foreign governments to criminals who wish to monitor, influence, direct or otherwise harm them.

If you’re a journalist who wants to be able to stay safe and identify physical surveillance when you encounter it, here are a few key things to keep in mind.

Physical Surveillance vs. Digital Surveillance

The most important step to take in order to remain protected as a journalist involves knowing as much as you can about exactly what it is that you’re up against. Though our society is increasingly digital, people will always rely on the tried-but-true methods of physical surveillance to get what they want.

An example of physical surveillance is someone parked in a suspicious van across the street from your office, monitoring who goes in and out in an attempt to collect compromising information. Digital surveillance might be keeping an eye on your email account for similar purposes. Though they share similar characteristics, they’re still two very different approaches and should be treated as such.

Think About What Someone Would Want From You

If you really want to identify physical surveillance, you need to get inside the head of the person who might be watching you. For the sake of example, say you believe that a hidden camera might be inside your office. As the person who is being monitored, you have the benefit of knowing exactly what you’re up to — and what information or activities that someone might be interested in. Start by asking yourself a simple question: “what is this person’s goal?”

Then, you could break things down further. Where would YOU have to place that camera inside the office in an attempt to gain access to that information? Where would a listening device have to be placed in the room to hear what you’re saying on the phone? Who has access to your office who might be able to place that device, and for how long?

You can also buy a variety of devices aimed at “counteracting” these physical surveillance techniques. Lens finders can help identify hidden cameras in your home or office, and similar devices exist to help you discover discreet listening devices and more.

Suspicious Cars, People and More

The same is true if you think you’re being followed in public. Keep an eye out for people who may be standing where they don’t belong, stopping in unusual places or discreetly trying to readjust personal equipment. Be sure to filter out coincidence, however. Just because you’ve never seen someone before or they don’t look as if they’re from the area doesn’t necessarily mean they’re concerned with you. Watch for three individual signs that something (or someone) is out of the ordinary before elevating your suspicions to the next level.

At the end of the day, it’s important to remember that if you believe you’re being physically surveyed, the most important thing that you can do is to stay safe. Your end goal is not to “lose” your tail or somehow trick them or prove how otherwise clever you are. It’s to make it home at night to your family in one piece. If you think that someone is paying attention to your every move, notify others. If your gut instinct is telling you that a physical confrontation may be just on the horizon, contact the authorities as soon as you can.

 

Keeping Alzheimers Patients Safe With GPS Tracking

20 Mar

Alzheimer’s is more than just a chronic neurodegenerative disease – it’s an absolutely debilitating condition that millions of people struggle with on a daily basis. According to the experts at ALZ.org, more than five million people are currently living with Alzheimer’s in the United States alone. It’s the sixth leading cause of death in this country, something that ultimately leads to the death of one out of every three seniors and also costs family caregivers more than $5,000 per year.

Alzheimer’s patients often find themselves in dangerous situations due to the heightened levels of confusion they experience regularly. They may go outside, forget what they were trying to do in the first place and wander off – leading to a very serious situation for their loved ones. Thankfully, technology has evolved in recent years in ways that make this process easier for all involved. GPS tracking, in particular, has seen incredible gains in terms of keeping Alzheimer’s patients safe and sound at all times.

Alzheimer’s and GPS Tracking

According to one study, more than 15 million caregivers provided roughly 18.1 billion hours of unpaid care to Alzheimer’s patients around the country in 2015. Again, a large part of this was devoted to just making sure that an affected patient was safe and accounted for as much as possible.

According to another study, as many as 60 to 70% of those who are affected by Alzheimer’s will wander (and likely get lost) at some point during their battle with the disease. If they are not found within 24 hours, their chance of death increases by an unfortunate 50%.

Many organizations are stepping up to the plate to help relieve these concerns as much as possible through technology, with Project Lifesaver being just one notable example. Over the course of the last 15 years, Project Lifesaver has outfitted patients and their caregivers with GPS tracking devices built with safety in mind.

Affected patients can be given a small “Protect and Locate” tracker, also commonly referred to as a PAL tracker. It operates nearly identically to the GPS that you may use for turn-by-turn directions in your car, with one notable difference – each device has a unique signal tied to the wearer and can be worn around the wrist, almost like a sports watch or a fitness tracker. If an Alzheimer’s patient happens to wander, a caregiver can contact Project Lifesaver and trained emergency response teams will be notified. Project Lifesaver’s website indicates that the average recovery time in these situations is 30 minutes or less.

Many consumer-grade products are already available to purchase on your own, even if you’re not interested in partnering with an organization like Project Lifesaver. Devices are almost always wearable in nature, which cuts down on the possibility of them being lost, damaged or stolen. Loved ones can use a smartphone app or log into a website (depending on the device in question) and instantly find the location of their elderly family member at all times –generating some much-needed peace of mind and relieving much of the stress that comes with these situations.

Other Considerations

It’s important to note, however, that GPS trackers cannot prevent a loved one from wandering –  they will only help you when wandering does occur. In an effort to remain as prepared as possible, it’s always important to take a few key steps. First, make sure the Alzheimer’s patient’s home is safe and secure – significantly cutting down the risk of them accidentally harming themselves. Create a detailed plan for what you will do if they happen to wander – who will you call, what steps will you take, etc. Always keep a recent photograph of the loved one handy in the event that you need to contact the authorities.

Above all else, always let friends and neighbors know as much about the situation as possible. Remember that we’re all in this together, and caring for an Alzheimer’s patient isn’t something you should attempt to do on your own.

 

Hidden Cameras Shed Light on What Women Have to Deal With Every Day

15 Mar

Harassment is one of those things that people tend to not really think about until it happens to them. People are so busy these days that their attention is fractured in a million different directions ― they often aren’t thinking about the experiences that people on the street next to them are having, even though they’re ostensibly doing the same thing at the same time. If you haven’t been a victim of street harassment yourself, it’s easy to feel as if the problem isn’t as serious as certain people make it out to be.
But it very much is a serious problem. Now, thanks to one enterprising project, we have the hidden camera footage to prove it.

Female Harassment: By the Numbers

That women have to deal with harassment throughout their daily lives is certainly nothing new. The experts at Stop Street Harassment.org have compiled statistics that paint a fairly harrowing picture of the situation as it currently stands:

  • According to a 2,000-person survey that was conducted in 2014, nearly 65 percent of all women had experienced some form of harassment on the street.
  • Of those women, 23 percent had been touched in a sexual or inappropriate way.
  • 20 percent of the women who responded to the survey said that they had been followed in a way they felt threatened by.
  • Another 9 percent said that they had been forced at one point to do something sexual against their will.

It’s a problem that does not discriminate and that can be found almost anywhere ― whether you live in a major city like Indianapolis or California or another country like Canada or Egypt. Yet the thing to remember is that sometimes, facts and figures like these keep us at an arm’s length from the real situation. It’s easy to discount a statistic or to look at it as a mere number on a page.

Thankfully, hidden cameras are being used on a regular basis to give faces to these figures ― to paint incredibly vivid pictures of exactly what is going on and what women have to deal with in a way that is impossible to ignore, as harrowing as it may be.

The Power of Hidden Cameras

Hollaback is an anti-street harassment organization that recently enlisted the services of Rob Bliss Creative, a video marketing agency, to produce a video that detailed exactly what it’s like to be a woman walking alone on a city street. Even after reviewing the footage for only a few minutes, the thesis is clear: The experience is exhausting, demeaning and downright scary, often all at the same time.

Video marketer Rob Bliss hid a camera inside a backpack that was worn by actress Soshana B. Roberts. Dressed in a T-shirt and jeans and holding a microphone, Roberts then walked around New York City for 10 hours. She was completely minding her own business ― not going out of her way to do anything in particular or interact with anyone.

Despite this, the cameras didn’t just catch street harassment ― they caught it all. Men often approached Roberts, leered at her from afar or even followed her as she went about her day. Some men shouted seemingly innocent comments in her direction such as, “Have a nice evening,” while others took it a degree further and shouted things like “Sexy!”

Throughout those 10 hours, the hidden camera recorded more than 100 instances of street harassment. Note that this number does not include actions like winking and whistles.

In the end, this film goes a long way toward showing exactly what it’s like to be a woman on a daily basis. Remember that Roberts is just one person; at any given moment, thousands like her are experiencing these and other types of harassing incidents all day, every day. Thankfully, hidden camera projects such as this one exist to capture everything in stunning detail. The major lesson is clear: This isn’t a problem that can be ignored. This isn’t just people on the street being annoying or impolite; it’s an issue that needs to be addressed as a collective moving forward.

 

The Best USB-Powered Hidden Spy and Audio Voice Recorders on the Market Today

13 Mar

Covert surveillance devices have come a long way in the last few years in particular. For just a few hundred dollars, it’s now possible to buy a perfectly concealed, infinitely portable HD camera hidden inside a normal, everyday object that will capture anything you want in stunning detail.


Sometimes, however, you don’t necessarily need to see what someone is up to – you’re much more concerned with what they might be saying when you’re not around. For those scenarios, there are a number of USB-powered hidden spy and audio voice recorders available on the market today that you’re definitely going to want to know more about.

The MemoQ MQ-U350 4GB Voice Activated Flash Drive Voice Recorder

Whenever you’re doing some type of secret audio recording, concealment is always your top priority. It’s a lot like the placement of a nanny cam – part of your job involves getting your device into an area where people won’t think twice about it. To that end, the MemoQ is a perfect option – it takes the appearance of a normal USB flash drive, something you probably have dozens of laying around your home right now.

As an option built with covert, portable surveillance in mind, the MemoQ can capture crystal clear audio – even from all the way across a large room. It is voice activated, allowing you to “set it and forget it.” Whenever someone starts speaking, it automatically starts recording so that you don’t have to worry about a thing. It comes with an incredible 24-hour battery life and can even store up to 288 hours of audio, or roughly 12 days.

USB Flash Drive Audio Recorder 2GB

Along the same lines is the USB Flash Drive Audio Recorder 2GB, a device that is both powered by USB and that looks like a standard USB flash drive. It’s small enough to effortlessly attach to your keychain and can be programmed to immediately start recording after it’s plugged into a computer. All crisp, clear audio is stored directly on the built-in flash drive, making sure you don’t miss even a second of the action.

This particular item features a four- to eight-foot microphone sensitivity, making it perfect for intimate spaces. It has a four-hour battery life (when used independently of its USB power) and can record for as long as 40 continuous hours. This unit is also compatible with both the Windows and Mac operating systems.

The EasySpy Professional Grade Covert Recording Device

Another worthy entry on the list is the EasySpy Professional Grade Covert Recording Device, an option built with sophistication and style in mind. Despite the large number of advanced features that it offers, it’s incredibly easy to use – it features one-button recording and is even compatible with a wide range of popular audio file formats like WAV. It also has a voice activation feature that allows it to automatically start recording whenever audio is detected, guaranteeing that you don’t miss a second of what you were trying to capture in the first place.

When used on its own internal battery, the device can go for up to 15 hours on a single charge. It also features a 70-hour recording capacity and will even date and time stamp each file so that you always know when a particular conversation took place.

These are just a few of the best USB-powered hidden spy and audio voice recorders that you can buy today. Whether you’re trying to figure out what someone is up to when you’re not around or you just want a convenient option for recording lectures or meetings, these inexpensive, yet powerful, devices will get the job done every time. When you consider how far this type of surveillance technology has come in just a few short years, it’s truly exciting to think about what the next few likely have in store.

 

The Most Incredible Spy Gadgets That Are Actually Real

8 Mar

When people hear the term “spy gadgets,” they normally call to mind fanciful images of cinematic spies like James Bond and his many incredible adventures. Who can forget the time that Sean Connery used a jet pack to escape some would-be attackers? What about that time Pierce Brosnan used a powerful laser built into a watch to destroy the lock on an escape hatch, running away from a train car just seconds before it exploded?

Many people don’t realize that while laser watches and exploding briefcases may be the stuff of fantasy, spy gadgets, in general, are very, very real. The hardworking men and women of intelligence communities around the world use them on a daily basis to do everything from evading detection to collecting data on those who are up to no good. Out of all the incredible spy gadgets out there in the wild that are actually real, there are a few in particular that you’re definitely going to want to know about.

Turn Your Smartphone Into a Thermal Camera

To say that your iPhone or Android smartphone is a powerful little device is something of an understatement. When you look at it from the perspective of raw computing power, even an original iPhone has more to offer than the technology that was used to send men to the moon in the 1960s. From that angle, it makes perfect sense that a lot of modern-day spy devices are designed to work directly with a phone like these.

Case in point: Many companies make accessories that turn your iPhone into a thermal camera in an instant. Once the device is attached (the same way you might attach a set of headphones) and the app is installed, you can get a detailed heat display of literally anything you point it at.

Cell Jammers

Speaking of cell phones, have you ever been in a situation where you were pretty sure your calls were being monitored? How about those times where you’re in a public place like a movie theater and you just wish the person next to you would stop talking long enough for you to enjoy the film you paid money to see?

Whether you’re an intelligence professional on the job or just someone who wants to annoy rude people, many companies make cell jammers that let you do all this and more with the press of a button. These devices, for example, let you totally stop ALL cellular transmissions in a short range – from 4G to 3G to 2G and even GPS!

Hidden Cameras Are Everywhere

These days, the idea that a camera can be hidden in a normal, everyday object is certainly nothing new. You can buy cameras hidden in wall clocks, desk lamps, pens and just about anything else you can think of. Some spy gadgets, however, take this concept to the next level – as evidenced by the Zippo-style cigarette lighter with a camera hidden inside!

Speaking of compact spy technology, you’ll also want to take a look at this unique coin. Not only does it look and feel exactly like a regular coin, but it’s also got a stunning secret – it’s actually hollow and is large enough to house a microSD card to safeguard all your personal data! If you were to use both the hidden camera Zippo and the coin, you could capture footage just about anywhere without anyone ever suspecting what you’re up to.

Dead Drop Bolts

If you’ve ever needed to get something small to another person but had to do so away from prying eyes, you definitely could have used a dead drop bolt. Based on an old Russian idea, these are designed to look like normal, everyday items – in some cases literally a bolt or a screw – that are hollow on the inside. You can use it to conceal whatever you need (like a piece of paper containing Dr. No’s nuclear launch codes, for example), hide the item in plain sight and get that data into the hands of the people who need it the most.

 

Wearable GPS Tracking for Children, Invaluable Peace-of-Mind for Parents

6 Mar

To say that the use of wearable technology has exploded in recent years is something of an understatement. According to one study, the market for wearable devices hit $2 billion in 2015 and is expected to grow to over $4 billion by 2017. Growth in the entire market is expected to increase by roughly 35% by as soon as 2019, thanks largely to the versatility of the technology.

children-gps

Though you may think of wearables as only fitness trackers, they actually have a host of other unique applications that stand to benefit nearly every aspect of our lives. Employees who are given wearable devices to use at work not only report an 8.5% increase in productivity, but an overall 3.5% increase in job satisfaction. Many parents around the country have also recently begun to turn to wearable devices as a way to keep track of their children, generating peace of mind you just can’t put a price on.

Wearable GPS Tracking for Kids

GPS tracking is certainly nothing new, but it isn’t just for turn-by-turn directions any longer. One company has recently released a GPS-equipped wristband (which is also available in an ankle bracelet variety) that allows parents to check in on their children at all times, making sure that they’re not getting into any trouble.

Dubbed the Kidsport GPS, the device is both colorful and waterproof – perfect for younger children, in particular. The device also comes with a number of emergency features like a “panic” button that kids can quickly press to send a warning in the event of an abduction.

Should the wireless connection of the device be severed in any way, or the device itself removed without permission, an alert is instantly pushed to the parent’s smartphone or tablet so that they have actionable information as quickly as possible.

Not only is this a wise investment for safety conscious parents, but the wearable nature of the device itself also makes it perfect for long-term applications. Parents can give their children a fun, colorful device to wear without having to worry about it being lost, or without trying to convince a child that it’s a good idea to carry a particular piece of technology around with them at all times.

Because they’re targeted at younger users, they’re also a perfect solution for parents who want more visibility into their child’s activities but who may not want to take the step of buying that child a smartphone quite yet. Kids get a fun device to play with, and parents always know what their children are up to with the press of a button – it’s a situation where everyone wins.

The Future of GPS Tracking and Wearable Technology

Though the Kidsport GPS is certainly one of the most notable wearable trackers for kids, it is far from the only option available on the market today. Many companies – with LG being just one example – are expected to release similar devices worldwide over the next year. The LG KizON, for example, is a waterproof wristband that connects to 2G, 3G and Wi-Fi networks that can also run for an incredible 36 hours on a single charge.

What makes the LG KizON so notable is that it also doubles as a communication channel between a parent and their child. It features a unique “One Step Direct Call” button that, when pressed, automatically dials a parent’s cell phone. A microphone built into the device essentially lets that child use it like a phone, and it can even be activated by the parent if they find that they can’t reach their child for whatever reason.

For parents, the safety of their little ones is – and will always be – a top priority. Though children do deserve a certain degree of freedom, there are some dangers that you will just never be able to protect them from no matter how hard you try. Options like wearable GPS trackers for kids go a long way toward keeping kids out of harm’s way at all times.

 

Nanny Cameras: Invaluable Peace-of-Mind for Parents Everywhere  

1 Mar

Let’s face facts: children can be a handful. One minute, your little one is sitting in the middle of the floor, reading a book and mind their own business. You turn your back for a second and turn back and find – nothing. They’re gone, you have no idea where they may have gone to but you do know that somehow, somewhere, something in your house is getting broken right now.
Stop Child Abuse

Thanks to the rapid pace at which technology has continued to advance, many parents are turning to devices like nanny cameras to keep a watchful eye over their kids at all times. But they don’t just protect your children from their own mischief – if you’re one of the many parents who needs to hire a full or part-time babysitter, they can be an invaluable addition to your home in that situation, too.

Nanny Cameras: What You Need to Know

Nanny cameras are a particular type of small, hidden camera that is designed to be cleverly concealed inside an everyday household item while you’re away. Unlike more visible cameras which are meant for deterrence, the aim of a nanny camera is one of honesty. They’re designed to empower you with the knowledge that only comes with knowing what people are up to when you’re around.

The classic image of a nanny cam is one hidden inside a stuffed animal like a teddy bear, though they come in a host of shapes and sizes. They can be hidden inside desk clocks, picture frames and even USB phone chargers. When placed strategically around your home, they help make sure that your eyes (and often your ears) know no limits.

Why Nanny Cameras Are So Important

As your kids continue to age, a nanny camera might come in handy in the classic situation of “when the parents are away, the kids will play.” If you want to see who your teen is inviting over when you’re not around, or if you just want to make sure that the all-ages party that you’ve heard about isn’t taking place in your home, a nanny camera would be a great way to do it.

Beyond that, nanny cameras also serve a hugely important function when it comes to an unfortunately all-too-real topic: child abuse at the hands of those who you’ve trusted to care for them.

According to a study conducted by the University of New Hampshire Scholars’ Repository at the University of New Hampshire, crimes against children by babysitters in particular are a lot more common than you might think. There are approximately 18.5 million children in the United States, with roughly 14% of them being under the age of five-years-old – or the age range likely to be looked after by a babysitter.

It should come as no surprise that kids who fall into this age range are also the most likely to be victimized by a babysitter. The study revealed that while babysitter offenses are very rarely likely to result in death, sex-related crimes actually outnumber physical assaults nearly two to one. Likewise, juvenile offenders (meaning teenage babysitters) are much more likely to commit these types of activities to the tune of 48%.

 

With the right nanny camera at your side, however, you can help make sure this doesn’t happen. Many nanny cameras not only offer HD video and crystal clear audio, but also offer motion activation – allowing you to “set it and forget it” without worrying about missing anything. Many can also stream live footage over a home network to the Internet, allowing you to continually check in on the situation at home while you’re at work.

In addition to helping to catch people in the act and to make sure that you have the type of footage you would need in the event that you found yourself in court, nanny cameras also bring with them the most important benefit of all: the peace-of-mind that only comes with knowing that your child is being properly cared for. It’s the type of thing that you just can’t put a price on.