Operating safely in the COVID-19 era
In recent weeks, an increasing number of businesses and organisations have been allowed to return to some degree of operational status, albeit with a need to manage certain aspects of the way in which they work. While many people refer to the ‘new normal’ as a significant challenge, there are ways in which current technology can assist.
One of the main considerations when looking at operations in a COVID-19 Secure environment is social distancing. For some sites where maintaining the two metre distancing is not realistic, there is the potential to reduce the distance to one metre when other measures are taken.
For businesses, the challenge is to maintain an environment which protects staff, customers, visitors and contractors, but which also allows businesses to operate in a profitable and sustainable way. Additionally, businesses and organisations need to be seen to be acting responsibly and in accordance with the guidelines, and need to maintain an audit trail to prove compliance should any claims be made.
Because various industry sectors have differing needs and face varied threats and risks, the Government has issued guidance aimed at commercial vertical markets. This therefore demands that any technology-based solutions are both flexible and scalable, allowing users to respond as the requirements change.
Even within defined industries, sites will differ due to layout and physical restrictions, size, number of entrances and exits, etc.. For integrators, this means there isn’t a simple approach which can be deployed on a site-by-site basis. Every application needs to be bespoke, and as such this highlights the need for solutions which are customisable and offer the ability to adapt and change as required.
Key to most businesses reopening is the implementation of social distancing policies. Often this requires businesses and organisations to control occupancy to ensure those inside a building or area are able to maintain distancing with ease.
Hanwha Techwin offers a licence-free Occupancy Monitoring application designed to offer retailers, places of worship and museums, as well as leisure facilities, pubs, clubs and restaurants, with accurate data on the number of customers in their premises at any given time.
Compatible with Wisenet P-Series AI cameras, the edge-based Occupancy Monitoring application simultaneously counts the number of people entering or leaving a building. When the maximum permitted number of people has been reached, the application generates alarm outputs to control automatic doors or a traffic beacon, as well as displaying Wait or Enter messages which can be displayed on a local monitor.
The Occupancy Monitoring application can aggregate and process data from multiple cameras, making it ideal for buildings with multiple entrances and exits. As a serverless solution, integrators do not have to spend time configuring server-side software. This also reduces the capital costs of a project as the end-user does not need to invest in server hardware or on-going maintenance.
Support for Deep Learning AI is built into the cameras, so the Occupancy Monitoring application can accurately count people, even when a camera is wall mounted. Unlike people counting solutions which use conventional video analytics, the camera does not have to be mounted on a ceiling to provide an overhead field of view. This allows it to be simultaneously used for security purposes and people counting, and users are also able to take advantage of a host of additional video analytics applications which can be run onboard the device.
Wisenet P Series AI cameras will continue to deliver benefits beyond immediate requirements to support compliance with regulations during COVID-19. In addition to being used to detect and monitor criminal activity, the cameras can be redeployed to capture valuable business intelligence and help companies improve productivity. Retailers can analyse the impact of marketing activities on footfall and manage the peaks and troughs of customer flow at checkouts.
The cameras are supported by Wisenet Retail Insight, a business intelligence solution which utilises people counting, heat mapping and queue management applications to display statistical analytics on a centralised dashboard, along with other practical information such as weather reports. With the help of AI algorithms, Retail Insight is also able to display an estimated age and gender of store visitors.
In some applications, the two metre social distancing rules can be relaxed if additional measures are taken, such as visitors wearing face covering. To link with the launch of the Occupancy Monitoring application, Hanwha Techwin has also introduced a Face Mask Detection application which further helps businesses operating in a COVID-19 affected world.
Wearing a mask is believed to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and has already been adopted as a safety measure in many workplaces. The availability of the Face Mask Detection application follows the World Health Organisation (WHO) recommending the use of face masks wherever social distancing is difficult. The UK government is also making it compulsory to wear a face covering when visiting or working within healthcare facilities and when using public transport.
The UK is not alone in introducing regulations to ensure the wearing of face coverings. In Germany it is necessary to do so when on public transport and shopping, and in Spain anyone over the age of six must wear a mask in indoor public spaces and outdoors when it is not easy to keep more than two metres apart.
The Face Mask Detection application was developed by Hanwha Techwin technology partner a2 Technology, and runs on open-platform Wisenet X Series cameras. It uses video analytics to detect if a person entering an area is not wearing a mask. This will trigger the playing of a customisable audio message.
The audio message is generated via an audio support feature built into Wisenet X cameras, negating the need for a PC or a separate audio storage device to be installed. A short cable is all that is required to connect a speaker to the camera. An alarm output can also be used to turn on a device such as a warning beacon.
The application, which simultaneously detects and analyses up to four people, has a detection range of up to five metres. Detection performance is not affected by people wearing glasses, hats or scarfs. It is also able to detect if a mask is not being correctly worn.
A digital zoom function, which is designed to be used with fixed lens cameras, assists in the configuration of the application so it can focus on a specific region of a camera’s field of view if it is considered to be too wide.
The Face Mask Detection application can be ordered pre-loaded on selected Wisenet X models as an out-of-the-box solution.
The Wisenet X Series cameras are equipped with SD/SDHC/SDXC memory slots, enabling images associated with incidents of people not wearing masks or wearing them incorrectly, to be stored locally. There is also the option for the images to be uploaded to an FTP server.
A web-based interface enables users to receive alerts via a desktop PC. The application has also been integrated with the Wisenet WAVE 4.0 VMS platform which, with its ‘Layout-as-an-Action’ feature, enables a predefined screen layout to be automatically opened when an event occurs. This makes it easier for operators to verify there has been an infringement of mask wearing rules.