Ritzy Car Rental Firm Relies on ‘Security Agent’ to Secure Lots
Learn how “responsive observation security agents” are helping Midway Car Rental in Southern California safeguard its properties.
Midway Car Rental, the largest privately-owned car rental company in Southern California, caters to both an exclusive and expansive clientele, including VIPs, high-end hotels and replacement vendors like dealerships and body shops. The company currently owns and operates 15 locations, with plans to build a half-dozen or more sites during the year.
With a portfolio that includes Ferraris, Lamborghinis and Jaguars, Midway can have up to a million dollars of assets parked on any of its lots. Some of the company’s newest locations lack secure perimeter fencing. Sean Perez, Midway’s general manager, explains, “We needed to protect our vehicles, but even more importantly, we had to ensure the safety of our employees and clients.”
The problem became acute when Midway opened a new location to provide loaner and replacement vehicles for an adjacent dealership partner. Prior to Midway’s arrival, the lot had been populated by vagrants and the homeless who would sleep in and around the cars parked there.
“When we took over the property, we needed to provide a safe and secure environment where we could conduct business,” Perez says. “There were issues with vandalism and graffiti. Some of the displaced homeless would get aggressive. We needed a proactive solution — a way to stop these incidents from happening rather than trying to prosecute the individuals after the damage was done.”
Traditionally, Midway’s properties have been less exposed, with electronically secure gates or fences that restrict access. However, as Midway’s expansion plans include growing alignment with business partners like dealerships, many future sites will likely face similar security challenges. To address this situation, the company sought:
- A scalable system that could grow incrementally with Midway’s expansion
- Flexible technology that could be moved to new sites with minimal effort
- A technology partner capable of servicing and supporting a long-term solution
- The ability to outsource monitoring services in the near future
“I tend to be conservative,” says Perez. “I wanted to start off slow and then, when comfortable that we’d found both the right partner and technology, have the ability to really scale up.”
Midway Calls ROSA into Duty
Midway Car Rental deployed ROSA units — a.k.a., responsive observation security agents — manufactured by Robotic Assistance Devices (RAD), located in Henderson, Nev. The device’s 180° field of view through dual high-resolution, full-color, always-on digital cameras provide 24/7 visibility and monitoring.
“I have to tell you, I was a bit skeptical at first about these ROSA units,” says Perez. “You can stick an armed guard out there, but the idea that a technology device could provide both consistent monitoring and serve as a deterrent system seemed like a stretch. However, our two ROSAs are really helping us protect our assets. In very short order, our problem decreased and our situation has improved dramatically.”
ROSA is a compact, self-contained, security and communication solution that can be deployed in about 15 minutes. Its AI-driven security systems include human and vehicle detection, license plate recognition (LPR), responsive digital signage and audio messaging, and complete integration with RAD’s software suite notification and response library. Two-way communication is optimized for cellular, including live video from ROSA’s dual high-resolution, full-color, always-on cameras.
“The folks from RAD sent out an engineer to help us determine where to mount the ROSA units by identifying areas on our site that are most exposed to potential vandalism or other threats,” says Perez. The devices are highly visible, featuring scrolling LED text, colorful neon ribbons, and two video cameras.
ROSA may be programmed to display welcome messages or marketing messages during business hours, along with a reminder to visitors that the property is under surveillance. When it detects the motion of humans or vehicles on the lot, it sends an alert to Perez and his team along with an associated video clip, keeping them well informed of activity happening in real-time.
During off-hours, ROSA’s automated response kicks in. Its friendly daytime messaging is replaced with a more stern warning to trespassers. Upon detecting a human or moving vehicle, ROSA responds with flashing red lights and a visual warning to vacate the property immediately.
If ROSA continues to detect a presence, more lights, sirens, and a pre-recorded audio message add a sense of urgency. Monitoring personnel, who have been alerted of the event and have access to live video, can also issue pointed commands over ROSA’s loudspeaker. Ultimately, if the police must be summoned, the encounter has been thoroughly documented and recorded.
Perez describes ROSA’s effectiveness as a deterrent. “I’ve watched when people encounter the system. Initially, their reaction is one of shock and awe. When the unit goes off with its lights flashing and they hear those verbal commands, they’re terrified. They look like they’ve seen a ghost. Literally, in less than ten days after we put those things out, the word had spread to stay away. The vagrants were gone. It was like night and day.”
Currently, Midway’s management has chosen to monitor the system themselves. Perez explains, “Initially, I was getting alerts somewhat often, but they quickly tapered off. At this point, they’re infrequent. With just these two units in place, plus two more scheduled to go up in Newport Beach in the coming weeks, we can handle the monitoring independently. Within the next year or two, as we open new locations and add more units, we’ll take advantage of RAD’s monitoring services. We had that in mind when we went this route — that with our continued growth, we would eventually leverage that option.”
Perez describes the system as very intuitive and customer friendly.
“I’ve used other systems that are really cumbersome. The RAD SOC dashboard is nothing like that. The ease-of-use is amazing,” he says.
So is the deployment process. As ROSA requires nothing more than power to operate, it is truly plug-and-play. “We had them installed and received training all within a few hours on one day,” says Perez. “We haven’t run into any issues, but if we do, the relationship we’ve built with the RAD team is so good that I can call on them at any time for assistance. They are very, very customer-centric.”
Midway Car Rental quantifies the value ROSA delivers in several ways, including monetarily, a reduction in crime and improved peace-of-mind.
Perez elaborates, “Thanks to the ROSA units, we’ve addressed all sorts of issues. Damage to vehicles, graffiti on the exterior of the building, the homeless tampering with our electrical outlets to charge their phones, trash left around the property – that’s all gone since we put the ROSAs in. There are also important intangibles that you really can’t put a price tag on, like an improvement in employee well-being and productivity because our staff now feels safe at work.”
The system’s scalability and flexibility ensure that Midway’s investment will continue to pay dividends. Perez says, “We’re growing so fast, we’re trying to put flagpoles in the markets where we identify a need, but that doesn’t mean we’re locking ourselves into long-term leases. Down the road, if we decide to move locations, our ROSAs move with us. We heavily factored their ability to easily install, uninstall, and re-install when deciding to go with this technology.”
Consistent with Midway’s plans, RAD’s cloud-based software simplifies the management of multi-site systems. As new Midway locations open and ROSA units are installed, management and monitoring of all devices can occur through one login to the centralized RAD SOC dashboard. Alert notifications include the location of the activated unit.
In addition to ROSA, RAD offers a suite of other products that share the same platform for delivering automated remote services, including some that are more appropriate for indoor use. Should Midway encounter new security challenges in the future, they can expand their system with other RAD devices. “For now, ROSA is what fits our needs best, but I’ve seen some of those other units, and they look pretty cool,” says Perez.”
Midway uses the ROSA units through RAD’s subscription model. The company pays a low monthly fee that covers unlimited use of the devices, software and software updates, maintenance, and technical support. Their out-of-pocket equals a small fraction of what hiring a security guard would cost.
When asked whether Perez recommends the system to others, his answer is concise. “It’s a no-brainer!” he laughs. “Knock-on-wood, we’ve been nearly without incident for the four months since the ROSAs went up. I attribute that to the units’ effectiveness.”
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