Scotland Memorial Hospital in Laurinburg, NC, is a small community hospital and the flagship facility of Scotland Health Care System. Located in one of the most economically depressed regions of the state, many of its patients struggle with social determinants of health common to low-income communities. These factors make it more difficult for Scotland Memorial to provide services and maintain an environment where hospital staff, patients, and visitors feel safe.
Despite these challenges, the community perceives the hospital as a welcoming place. David Pope, Chief Operating Officer at Scotland Health, says, “For decades, we’ve thought of the hospital campus as a place that’s safe for foot traffic. We had a policy about no loitering, but we didn’t aggressively enforce it. During COVID, families had picnics outside under the trees because they weren’t allowed inside. Parking is so close, there’s only a 100-yard walk – at most – from any parking spot to our entrance.”
That sense of safety changed in May of 2022 when an assault occurred in a parking lot right next to the building. “It was a wakeup call that we needed to enhance our security,” says Pope. “Since then, we’ve looked at security vulnerabilities from every angle and have deployed some cutting-edge solutions. We’re incredibly proud to be the first hospital in the country to deploy a RAD Light My Way system manufactured by Robotic Assistance Devices (RAD). It’s a new award-winning technology that was recommended to us by our guard services provider – one of the leaders in the guard services industry – that has dramatically improved the ability to monitor activity on our parking lots.”
What Is RAD Light My Way?
RAD Light My Way is a comprehensive hardware and software solution comprised of three elements:
- RAD’s ROSA, an AI-driven, multi-functional security surveillance and communication devices, each about the size of a small microwave oven. Self-contained and portable, they can be mounted on poles, walls, or fences.
- RAD’s cloud-based monitoring platform, RADSoC. In Scotland Memorial’s deployment, the hospital’s contracted guarding company manages the system.
- RAD Light My Way, the mobile app that hospital workers utilize from their smartphones.
The hardware units are called ROSAs – Responsive Observation Security Agents. Each device features two high-resolution cameras, responsive digital signage and audio messaging, and integrated security analytics to detect humans, firearms, and vehicles and read license plates. Two-way communication between the ROSA units and monitoring personnel is optimized for cellular and does not require any network connection. The ROSA units may be powered by AC (a standard ROSA), battery (ROSA-P), or solar (RIO 360).
The software for managing the ROSAs is a cloud-based platform called RADSoC – a virtual security operations center. Using its secure, intuitive dashboard, remote security personnel can view live and recorded video, control device messaging, view alerts triggered by ROSA’s detection, and open two-way audio communication with people nearby.
The RAD Light My Way app transforms RAD’s remote surveillance and monitoring solution into a personal security escort service that accompanies hospital workers as they move between their cars and the building. Users connect with security officers through the app when they desire assistance. The ROSA units on the lot are activated, their lights go from green to red (or any customizable variation), a customized message plays over their loudspeakers, and the responding officer pulls up live video of the area. They then can maintain a dialog with the user over the user’s cell phone until they safely reach their destination. If any issues arise, the officer can deploy help to the exact location immediately.
Scotland Memorial’s Solution
Pope says that RAD Light My Way is one element of a broader effort to improve site security. So far, as part of the RAD Light My Way system, Scotland Memorial has deployed seven ROSA units at the hospital and an additional two at the campus’ nearby hospice building. Most are mounted on light poles; a few are on building walls.
One of the most critical roles the ROSAs play is crime deterrence. When someone walks by one of the devices, it makes an announcement. During the daytime, the pre-recorded message is welcoming. The announcement is more assertive at night, stating that the area is under surveillance. Accompanying messages appear on the unit’s LED screens.
Pope says, “I want to make sure that our facilities are not an easy target for criminals. They’re going to say, ‘I’m not going to the hospital because they’ve got monitors on poles with cameras, lights, and speakers. They’ve got security officers monitoring them. I’ll go find a softer target.”
The ROSAs are also the eyes and ears of the RAD Light My Way system, providing onsite security guards with the ability to escort staff to their cars virtually. Pope explains, “We’ve always had security officers onsite, but at times our staff have hesitated to ask for an escort to their vehicle. They don’t want to feel like a bother, like they’re pulling an officer away from other security-related responsibilities. With RAD Light My Way, we’ve removed that barrier. Asking for a virtual escort isn’t any trouble, so folks are likelier to do it.”
In addition to providing a virtual escort service, The RAD Light My Way app allows users to pull up still images of their parked car while on campus. They can check that nobody is vandalizing or breaking into it and that nothing looks suspicious before they head to the lot. They use the RAD Light My Way app to pinpoint the geo-location of their vehicle when they park, so the photos they see are from the closest camera.
Of course, the ROSA devices alert officers of any potential security issues in real time so they can respond. Their sensors and video analytics detect and respond to suspicious behaviors. However, when staff members can see their cars whenever they want, they enjoy an enhanced peace of mind.
Trust in Relationships Builds Trust in Technology
“There are always risks with being one of the first to try a new technology,” says Pope. “When you’re responsible for security at a hospital, you have to get it right. The fact that this solution was recommended by our security contractor, with whom we have a strong relationship, was a significant selling point. Security is a trust game, and without their confidence in the RAD team and their solution, we would not have considered it.
“We’ve been delighted with the implementation process and how the technology works. The folks at RAD were very responsive and worked with our existing infrastructure to make installation a painless experience. They conducted a site walk with us to determine where to position the devices to avoid obstructed views and provide the best sight lines and coverage possible.
“When I speak with friends and colleagues at other hospitals about our experience with the RAD Light My Way system, I have only good news to share. Just as our security contractor company’s endorsement was essential in convincing us to give RAD Light My Way a try, I expect our success story will carry weight in helping other campuses decide whether to invest in this technology.”
“The trust issue has also been central in getting Scotland Memorial employees to embrace the RAD Light My Way system. At first, some were slightly suspicious about using an app on their phone. However, as we’ve explained how it works and they can see it in action, our staff realizes its value. The hospital’s Director of Security, Rick Myers, introduces new hires to the app during new employee orientation. We talk it up all the time. It communicates to our employees that we care about them.”
Laurinburg, NC, has one of the highest crime rates in the nation. During the past year, the hospital has experienced increased workplace violence threats, including more acting out by patients and visitors in the Emergency Department. However, there has not been a single altercation in the parking lot. Pope says, “It’s hard to assess how much is directly due to the RAD solution, but we clearly see that our hardened security posture, which includes the ROSAs and RAD Light My Way, is working.”
“Before the upgrade, we had a fair number of cameras mounted on the hospital and in the parking lot, but they were passive. We could watch and record but lacked interaction with what was happening on site. There was not the deterrent effect that our new systems have.
“As for the ROSA units, they did shake up our employees a little bit when they were first installed. They didn’t expect them to turn on as they walked through the lot, loudly announcing, “Welcome to Scotland Health!” But that surprised reaction is precisely what we want people to have. Our employees got used to it quickly, but someone entering our property for the first time who doesn’t belong wonders where the voice is coming from. Who is watching them?”
“In terms of ROI, installing this technology is a practical win. It’s an additional security tool. But the larger benefit to us, as an organization, is connecting with our employees and driving their engagement. Our most valuable asset is our staff. They see we’re taking steps to make them safer.”