April 5th, 2021

Social distancing during shopping - how footfall counting technology measures distance in real-time

A few years ago, “social distancing” was a foreign concept to most people. Today, it’s a fundamental part of our everyday lives, and it’s particularly important for public locations with high footfall counts. While the technology to measure distance has long existed, it was never needed in shopping malls until now. 

Luckily, leading people counting technologists, like Vemco Group, have refined the real-time distance measuring capabilities of 3D counter sensors to create comprehensive COVID-19 screening solutions. Now, shopping malls and any other customer-facing businesses that need to keep their customers and employees safe can track the social distance by using their Vemcount Analytics software.


What is footfall counting technology?

Footfall counting technology is used to count the number of people entering a location and monitor their movements through the area providing insights into customer behavior. When integrated with data analytics software, the data captured by the sensors is dynamically analyzed and displayed on a customizable dashboard where relevant KPIs and metrics can be visualized and reported on. 

The kind of data that can be collected by footfall counter sensors includes:

▶︎ The total and current number of visitors entering and exiting a location;

▶︎ Zone-specific occupancy levels;

▶︎ Average dwell time;

▶︎ Traffic patterns and trends;

▶︎ Queue waiting times;

▶︎ Social distance measurement;

▶︎ Height, gender, and object filtration;

▶︎ Conversion rates;

▶︎ Customer interaction time;

▶︎ Bypasser count and behavior;

▶︎ View directions (can detect where people are looking);

▶︎ Temperature, CO2 levels, humidity, and other environmental variables


How does footfall counter sensor technology measure distance in real-time?

Footfall counter sensors use LiDAR (light detection and ranging) technology to count people to keep track of the building occupancy and measure the distance between people. LiDAR works by sending low-powered laser pulses out and measuring the time required for someone to make a round trip between a sensor and the target. An algorithm then aggregates that data and creates an image made of 3D points. 

The system can track and count people, measure distances between individuals, and distinguish between objects (for example, shopping carts and humans, or distinguishing between a large-bodied person and two people walking very closely together).

Managers can set up alerts that will notify security or employees on the floor to intervene and separate a crowd if, for example, the occupancy level exceeds the maximum capacity or if people are in breach of social distancing rules. The alert can be in the form of light, a tone, a visual signal, or a message sent directly to employees. Alerts can also be used to automatically dispatch cleaning services to areas where there has been a social distancing breach.

The sensor does all of this continuously and in real-time, without capturing or storing any personal information or pictures of individuals.

Additional COVID-19 screening benefits of footfall counter sensors

▶︎ In addition to counting people and measuring distance, footfall counter sensor technology can integrate with thermal imaging cameras to identify people with higher than usual body temperatures which could indicate a fever related to COVID-19 symptoms. The system will alert security or employees to intervene and check the individual’s temperature or direct them to the nearest medical center for a COVID-19 test.

▶︎ 3D sensor technology can detect the presence (or absence) of face coverings such as masks and is, therefore, an essential part of a COVID-19 screening solution. In the same way, alerts are sent to employees in cases of social distance breaches, and they will be sent when individuals not wearing a mask are detected.

▶︎ By connecting a Raspberry Pi (a tiny computer) to a screen or monitor at the entrance of a store or building, a live occupancy display presents customers with critical information about the number of individuals in the store, whether it is safe to enter or the approximate wait time before entering. The displays are fully customizable and can be edited from a user-friendly dashboard.

Does Vemcount have a social distancing solution?

Yes! Vemcount uses the latest 3D sensor technology and advanced BI analytics software for the most comprehensive social distancing and COVID-19 screening solution on the market. Boasting all of the capabilities mentioned above, we were the first provider to install 6000 screening solutions in the UAE alone.

To find out how you can protect your employees and customers with smart technology, simply send us a message.