Regulations designed to allow businesses and organisations to operate under COVID-Secure restrictions have placed a great emphasis on social distancing and occupancy control in sites. For end users seeking to implement the regulations in an efficient and cost-effective manner, technology-based solutions can offer an answer.
As an increased number of businesses and organisations start to return to normal operations – or operations as normal as they can be given today’s challenges regarding social distancing – the benefits of automated smart occupancy management are becoming increasingly obvious. While many sites are recommencing work using management methods controlled by personnel, this approach is neither cost-effective nor is it safe for those involved.
Technology offers a smarter and safer solution, in that it can accurately track footfall and occupancy, record traffic levels and deliver real-time reporting to management. This ensures sites can operate in a safer way and be able to react to exceptions and anomalies as they occur. Implementing such a solution in closed sites, such as offices or factories where there are a limited number of visitors and contractors is relatively simple as authorised visitors can be issued access control credentials, allowing the system to manage their movements. However, for customer-facing sites such as retailers, restaurants and public venues, it is not so simple.
Where a high flow of visitors and customers need to be managed, it is not an efficient approach to issue each person with a credential and use these to track people around the site. Instead, the better approach is to use business intelligence data captured through a combination of video analytics, LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) sensors and site status information. For example, people counting in free-movement areas such as doorways and corridors can track entries and exits, allowing a real-time occupancy level to be monitored.
While people counting solutions can offer directional discrimination, with people adding incrementing the total and people leaving decreasing it, many regulations for the management of COVID-Secure spaces recommend separate portals for entry and exit where possible. If this can be achieved, people counting systems could be configured to create a notification if individuals are passing the wrong way through a monitoring point.
Of course, merely counting people in and out of a site or specific area is one thing. The data can be of great use to management teams, but it is only of value if the collected information can be accessed and assessed, quickly and easily. Any occupancy management system must deliver actionable information in real-time if it is to be of any use when creating COVID-Secure applications.
It is essential any solution includes visualised data, enabling users to realise an ‘at-a-glance’ understanding of occupancy level on their site. To maximise efficiency, this should allow simple displays with the main information, as well as the ability to generate audit trails and in-depth reports which can be used for other tasks, such as trend projections and predictive management plans.
The requirements of sites and spaces to meet regulations will vary according to capacity, layout, flow, local regulations, etc.. As such, it is important that any occupancy management system is fully customisable, allowing users to adjust thresholds, change rules and procedures and adapt thresholds and notifications to reflect local conditions.
The Genetec option
As a growing number of businesses and organisations start reopening, the need to implement and manage physical distancing measures becomes increasingly critical. To help monitor and manage occupancy levels, delivering compliance with evolving regulations, Genetec offers its Occupancy Management Package.
The Occupancy Management Package can be used with video analytics or LiDAR sensors, and includes analytics and reporting tools allowing users to leverage their security system to ensure accurate real-time social distancing management. The package collects data from the edge devices to count the number of people entering or leaving a store or similar business area, reconcile a real-time count, visualise the relevant data to allow an immediate understanding of site status, and alert employees when occupancy limits are being reached. Reports can also be easily generated to create an audit trail. This can be used to demonstrate compliance with social distancing regulations.
The Occupancy Management Package from Genetec allows business and organisations to define their own policies, adhering to local guidelines for occupancy and customised to reflect the peculiarities of their site. The data enables them to adapt their operational procedures to limit the risk of transmission.
Live occupancy data is displayed in clear, graphical displays. When occupancy limits are being reached, employees who are responsible for monitoring the situation can receive alerts on a mobile device, via email, or through the Genetec Security Center dashboard so they can take appropriate action.
Rob Borsch, Practice Leader of Retail and Banking at Genetec, stated, ‘As public-facing organisations get ready to re-open, they are looking for ways to align security measures in adherence with social distancing regulations to keep staff and patrons safe. In order to enforce these strict occupancy rules, they will need to do more than just count the number of people entering their premises. They will need to know how many people are inside a store or restaurant at any given moment, continuously monitor this data, and be able to take action when thresholds are reached.’
For users who are looking to invest in occupancy management solutions and do not have a core system to upgrade, it should be remembered that the available benefits extend far beyond compliance with COVID-19 regulations. As well as delivering high level security and safety management, the systems can aid with business intelligence, delivering insights into customer and client behaviours, and can help with rostering staff and resources by allowing trends to be predicted.
As much of the business world realises the value inherent in business-specific data, so security and safety solutions offer a genuine return on investment when used for additional smart solutions.