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How to manage occupancy
monitoring inside your location

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The more people, the better, right? Until the first quarter of 2020, that was the mindset. Then COVID-19 happened, turning the general formula on its head.

Now, several businesses and public organizations worldwide are either struggling to control building occupancy numbers or they’re looking for a more productive solution to regulate their foot traffic flow and comply with regulations.

So, what are the options available for real-time visitor monitoring inside a location?  

Essentially, occupancy solutions include manual and automated systems. Every option resorts to one form or another of people counting. 

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Restricting occupant capacity remains essential to protecting workers and customers. It’s also key to business continuity.

> Read on for the overview of solutions to control occupancy limits.

Manual and Semi-Automated
Occupancy Monitoring Methods

1. People counting with checkmarks and clicks

2. Crowd management with carts and other token objects

3. Real-time live count using digital devices

Fully Automated Live Occupancy
Monitoring Systems

1. What is a real-time occupant monitoring system?

2. How does a live people counting system work?

3. Why go with real-time visitor monitoring technology?

Manual and Semi-Automated
Occupancy Monitoring Methods

Live people counting can be done manually: assign personnel at the door and, well, get counting. The risk for error varies with each method and worker, however. Plus, resorting to humans can actually be costlier than automated people counting technology.

Here are three options requiring human intervention:

1. People counting with checkmarks and clicks

Employees, or hired help like security guards, can keep a tally. Everyone has access to pen and paper, and checkmarks require but a flick of the wrist.

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The upfront cost and accessibility are this method’s key benefits. Outside of finger-counting, however, it ranks second-to-last on the reliability meter. Add entrances with other workers, and you can include coordination as an issue.

Others use manual clickers to keep count. But manual clickers are a one-way street—there’s no reverse mode for correction or the number of people exiting.

2. Crowd management with carts and other token objects

Some stores control occupancy numbers using a fixed amount of carts. As a person exits, their cart is handed over to another patron—once it’s been sanitized that is. This systematic approach appears reliable. Still, it requires that workers clean every cart, every time, it slows down foot traffic, and clients complain about dragging a cart they don’t need. Plus: what happens when a business doesn’t use carts in the first place?

That’s why other business places are using token objects, e.g., a rotating set of basic plastic cards. Though compact, they still need to be cleaned by workers and handed over to clients, who’ll have to carry them while shopping.

Higher tech options include RFID cards (radio frequency identification) or NFC chips (near field communication). Both systems centralize data for improved stakeholder feedback. But people need to know how to use them and, again, workers have to sanitize each properly.

A major deterrent for all these options is that visitors must carry something that’s been touched by hundreds of other people. Even when properly sanitized, there’s a perception issue. After all, the operative word is to avoid contacts. 

3. Real-time live count using digital devices

Digital tally counters are a better option. They include + and – buttons, but the data remains localized, i.e., on the device itself.

Better yet is an occupancy app. In fact, it’s likely that workers at the door already have a smartphone. Communication with colleagues, managers, and live people counting can therefore be done on a single device.

Storetraffic created a live occupancy app for iOS and Android devices. Download is free, and onboarding near instantaneous. Beyond its added convenience, the app features a maximum threshold setting, yielding real-time occupancy percentage and continuous visibility.

Monitoring live occupancy by resorting to human intervention is a costly process. Especially during COVID-19, workers should focus on customer experience to:

reduce people’s stress

improve on sanitization performance

smooth foot traffic flow

grow brand appreciation

increase conversion rates

Automated Live Occupancy Monitoring Systems

With COVID-19, the number of private businesses and public organizations turning to automated, real-time occupant monitoring systems rose considerably. Simply put: it’s the most dependable and efficient way to keep track of occupancy limits, to comply with regulations, and to optimize human resources.

1. What is a real-time occupant monitoring system?

People are superior to machines when it comes to certain tasks. Monitoring a building’s occupant density, however, isn’t one of them. As the saying goes: “Humans are the worst people counter you can buy!”

To help businesses handle COVID-19 challenges, some of the market’s leading people counting systems now offer the ability to deliver foot traffic data in real time for optimal density control and compliance.

Real-time visitor monitoring technology yields significant efficiency, operational, and safety gains. It also provides the peace of mind that comes from knowing that occupancy limits are automatically monitored.

> Check out these 10 Questions to choose the live people counting system that’s right for you.

2. How does a live people counting system work?

Sensors placed at a building’s entrance(s) register the number of people entering and exiting to cloud-based software. A people counting solutions provider like Storetraffic offers smart, lower-cost WiFi beam sensors like the PEARL People Counter, right up to specialized camera-based foot traffic sensors like 3D SCOPE II LC.

Both systems quickly prove their ROI: on average, using the PEARL footfall device for live people counting will be cheaper—after only one week—than paying a worker (based on an industry average of 12 USD hourly wage and 62-hour business weeks). 3D SCOPE II LC reaches the same milestone in two weeks.

Sound capacity monitoring systems work for buildings of any size. They offer the ability to connect several entrances and to monitor specific building areas (e.g., washrooms, cafeteria) or facilities in different locations. They should also count anonymously—i.e., ensuring people’s privacy. Likewise, a robust system should come with an occupancy threshold alert, remote connectivity, and the option to grant access to several users.

3. Why go with real-time visitor monitoring technology?

Efficiency, accuracy, and compliance with regulations are primary reasons why automated live occupancy monitoring systems are being used by supermarkets, malls, retail stores, libraries, museums, public services buildings, worship places, etc.

On top of accurate and consistent occupancy monitoring, advanced systems like Storetraffic’s smart occupancy sensors and capacity monitoring software deliver a host of collateral benefits that make a real difference.

Error-free live occupancy

In short: automated real-time visitor monitoring and foot traffic regulation removes human error risk, which is much higher than machine error. It’s the most surefooted method to manage traffic flow and ensure visitor and employee safety during the Coronavirus crisis.

A good system also allows you to correct for any machine error quickly and easily. Storetraffic allows this directly in its app with the simply press of a button.

Optimal capacity control

If someone breaches the preset capacity limit, a real-time occupancy solution like the one developed by Storetraffic engineers will instantly alert designated staff, fostering timely action.

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Physical distancing collaboration

Some live people counting system companies like Storetraffic provide their clients with a secure Web API that can connect live occupancy data to software systems or devices—e.g., smart tv, digital screen, tablet.

By posting information on these customer-facing heads-up displays, the real-time capacity system automatically manages visitor flow—no gatekeeping by employees. It also reduces stress significantly: making an informed decision before entering and knowing the average wait time are primary stress reducers.

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Moreover, the Web API can feed a location’s occupant density to its website and social media platforms, managing people’s expectations for wait time and naturally regulating traffic flow.

Smart occupancy enhances productivity

By continually controlling occupancy numbers, a live people counting system limits exposure, but also fosters sales productivity: customer satisfaction gets a boost when foot traffic flows smoothly and when staff is available to deliver better services.

Real-time visitor monitoring can also be used to clean and sanitize specific areas with greater efficiency or manage energy usage. The system can send alerts according to preset occupancy numbers for washrooms, cafeterias, meeting rooms, etc.

Occupant density data, where and when you need it

A smart live occupant monitoring system like the one developed by Storetraffic comes standard with a one-stop occupancy dashboard that can connect to several locations worldwide. Switching from one location to the next allows for real-time visibility of a specific facility’s occupancy level.

Moreover, its reports helps spotlight foot traffic trends and problematic hours, proving a valuable tool to regulate customer-to-staff ratio, increase safety, and improve operations. Timestamped foot traffic data can be readily exported and provide compliance reports in a matter of seconds.

Learn more about people counting technologies

and live occupancy monitoring on Storetraffic’s blog and website.

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