By Ellen O’Brien
Workplace distancing. Crowd density. Occupancy, vacancy, capacity. Welcome to the new language of reopening campuses and venues around the globe.
Whether it’s pro sports venues, college stadiums, campus libraries, or office buildings, dedicated reopen task forces are hard at work understanding new requirements to count people, manage physical distanging, and help students, fans and employees return safely.
At the same time, CIOs say this is a very noisy time — they are hearing lots of pitches from lots of vendors who want to help them reopen safely. Evaluating AI-powered reopen software can be daunting, even though there are some obvious starting points. It should have proven partnerships in your vertical. It should scale easily, and ideally be vendor agnostic, working with any IT provider you currently have on premises.
But what else should you know about this category of crowd intelligence software? We’ve highlighted 6 key attributes here:
1. Ask before investing in sensors. Ask whether the solution requires sensors to be installed over doorways or other locations. Depending on your electrical supply options, and the procedures for replacing batteries, some sensors could potentially become a hassle. Inquire whether the solution can leverage existing video systems you already have in place.
2. Remote Deploy. Considering how hard it is to schedule meetings and visitors these days, this might seem like an obvious starting point. If you believe your SaaS provider can get you up and running remotely, it may take some of the initial strain off the project.
3. Privacy. Most organizations do not want to be in the surveillance business. When looking for software that helps you count people and predict how and when they will use spaces – think library during finals week or holiday shopping at the mall – look for a solution that provides you visual representations of people in your space. Ask your SaaS provider if the data they wrangle and you see is anonymous.
4. A display you love. Everyone will tell you their software has the most intuitive interface. That’s because the user experience is important — but not because it makes you feel happier and smarter when you see it (though that’s nice) but because every other person in your organization should feel empowered by it. Non-technical types should find it easy to use and understand. So yes, there’s a lot of GUI hype — but for good reason.
5. Alerting. Make sure you have the ability to surface anomalies in ways that make sense to your team in the command center, or the ones using mobile devices. These threshold alerts can help facility and security teams respond to incidents faster, avoid bottlenecks or overcrowding, and adjust staffing when necessary.
6. Compliance. When evaluating reopen software, ask providers whether you will be able to review data for compliance purposes. So much time and effort will be dedicated to phased reopening; make sure you are able to review and show data that makes clear how people use the space you manage, and how your reopen plan is working.
If you are looking for reopen software to understand crowd behavior on your campus or venue, contact Jaclyn Smith, Vice President, Sales, at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more.
Ellen O’Brien is Director of Content & Marketing at Armored Things and based in Boston.