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During the COVID-19 pandemic, social distancing has become a standard public health intervention around the world. According to the definition by the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), social distancing, also called “physical distancing,” means maintaining space between yourself and other people outside of your home. Through social distancing, we can slow the spread of COVID-19 by making a conscious effort to keep a physical distance between each other. Social distancing is proven to be one of the most effective ways to reduce the spread of illness during an outbreak.

How Countries have Advocated Social Distancing Regulations

Based on advice from the CDC and the World Health Organization (WHO), every country has been urged to release its own social distancing regulations. Every state in the United States has issued guidelines or orders limiting social interaction. In the European Union (EU), the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) is monitoring the COVID-19 outbreak, providing risk assessments, public health guidance, and advice on response activities to EU Member States and the EU Commission. Meanwhile, throughout Asia, Singapore, South Korea, Japan, Hong Kong and Taiwan have implemented strict social distancing policies.

How the Retail Sector has Reacted to Social Distancing Regulations

Schools, restaurants, gyms, hair salons, and businesses where close-proximity contact is unavoidable have for the most part remain closed throughout the world. Among retail businesses, supermarkets are one of the few of places that have remained open during the outbreak and lockdown as they are deemed essential. Below are the common social distancing practices of supermarkets:
  • Limit the number of in-store customers.
  • In-store social distancing markers, barriers, and floor tape to remind customers to maintain the advised distance.
  • Invest in protective equipment such as acrylic screens at checkout counters.
  • Enhance cleaning practices, and provision of hand sanitizer for customers.
  • Increase upper-limits on contactless payments.

    Individual supermarkets have introduced their own policies to keep customers at an appropriate distance. At the same time, an increasing number of supermarket chains have adopted IP surveillance and business intelligence systems to reduce the load on manual management while also mitigating the risk of both employee and customer infection on their premises.

Video Analytics During COVID-19

As the IP surveillance industry enters the era of AI, security network cameras (IP cameras) have seen great advances through the application of AI and deep learning technologies. These next generation cameras are equipped with high performance computing power and video analytics, allowing users to transform real-time images into big-data analysis.

Under the social distancing practices of supermarkets noted above, there are 4 video analytic techniques that are commonly deployed to take precautionary measures.

  • Queue Management
    Queue management was designed to optimize customer experiences and reduce wait times. During the pandemic, queue management is focused on managing customer flows and avoiding physical queues to maintain social distance.
  • People Counting
    In response to the needs of entry-control management, a people-counting solution is the ideal video analytic tool for supermarket chains. It can easily identify occupancy levels and monitor in real-time the number of people entering and exiting a store, thereby providing customers and staff with a safer environment.
  • Crowd Detection
    Crowd Detection video analytics can be used to identify how many people are present in a given area. Stores and businesses can then effortlessly manage and maintain distances between customers, automatically sending alert notifications when maximum capacity is exceeded.
  • Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Detection
    Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is equipment that can protect the user against health or safety risks. These items include safety helmets, gloves, eye protection, high-visibility garments, safety footwear and so on. During the COVID-19 pandemic, advanced video analysis can identify people who are not wearing masks, hardhats, vests or other critical equipment, providing a safe and healthy environment for both frontline workers and customers.

Smarter is Safer: Crowd Control Solutions

These AI-driven video analytics and smart-edge cameras are enabling IP surveillance solutions to better assist users to manage their business under the increased pressures of pandemic conditions. VIVOTEK, a global IP surveillance solution provider, offers a solution for retail businesses to maintain maximum occupancy as well as a safer and healthier environment. VIVOTEK Crowd Control Solutions can easily monitor the number of people entering and exiting a store, thereby providing customers and staff with a safer environment. This intelligent people-counting camera and analytics system can be deployed at points of entry to areas with a higher likelihood of social interaction such as shops, supermarkets, pharmacies, banks, and restaurants.
Below are the benefits of VIVOTEK’s Crowd Control Solutions.
  • Social Distancing Compliance
    Putting safety first, implementing VIVOTEK’s Crowd Control Solution enables effective management of crowds in places where social distancing must be upheld.
  • High Accuracy
    When retailers recruit security staff or part-time employees to manually count traffic this leads to a less than satisfactory result. VIVOTEK’s 3D counting camera provides precise tracking and a counting accuracy up to 98%. This accuracy is further increased by the ability to transfer large datasets.
  • Real-time Analytics
    Combining AI with deep-learning analytics, video data can be gathered, analyzed, and applied in real-time, enabling retail businesses to respond promptly to any change.
  • Lowered Risk of Infection
    The deployment of VIVOTEK’s Crowd Control Solution also means a minimization of physical contact, providing both customers and employees a safer working and shopping environment.

We Stand Together

COVID-19 has changed our lives and the way we all interact and communicate. It also has a growing impact on the global economy. From AI to video analytics, VIVOTEK’s Crowd Control Solution has become essential at this time of social distancing. The need for social distancing will eventually end. In a post COVID-19 world, the solution can be redeployed as a Retail Business Intelligence Solution to optimize retail operations. Until then VIVOTEK will continue to stand together with and serve our customers, while providing AI-based solutions in our fight against COVID-19.
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