I am now forever cursed as I enter or walk near a retail store as I am forced to gaze up to the ceiling to see what kind of technology is possibly counting me. I’ve been doing this since I was 22 years old, I am now 34 and I mastered the art of spotting sensors without store managers asking me if I am ok or if I need help. I used to try to make small talk with retail associates and ask them about their counting system and would let them know that I make my living by implementing these systems and they would provide valuable feedback with comments such as, “I hate companies like yours” or “look at the blinking light, see it just counted and no one entered”. I would quickly wrap up that conversation and leave the store.
With old people counting systems, I do understand the distaste for them, years ago they weren’t terribly accurate. Systems today paint a much better picture of real visits and do a great job of classifying count into buckets such as adults, children, employees, customers and exclude “u-turn” traffic such as deliveries.
If your company is interested in upgrading to a modern people counting system or if you are looking to add a counting system for the first time, here is some information that you could gather and provide to a people counting vendor in order to obtain an accurate cost estimate and to expedite the implementation so that you can start tracking foot traffic accurately. This information that is gathered in preparation to selecting a people counting system will also be valuable for your team to make an informative decision.
People Counting System Preparation Checklist:
• Number of locations?
• Number of entrances per location looking to be monitored?
• Dimensions of each entrance:
– Ceiling height
– Entrance width
• Photos of each entrance
– Take at least two photos of each entrance, one of the entrances from inside the space facing outward and another showing the ceiling just above the entrance.
• Installation Preference
– Typically, modern people counting sensors require one network cable (cat5e or cat6) to be ran from the sensor that is mounted overhead typically 3’ from the entrance back to your network switch.
– Most traffic counting vendors offer installation services, some vendors require to use their installation services and some don’t mind if customers use their own IT low voltage installer or if they install the system on their own.
– Check with your IT staff to see if there is a preference on the physical installation and cabling infrastructure.
• Powering the sensors
– Modern people counters are typically an “edge” device meaning that the sensor does the processing onboard the sensor and has a network connection. Typically the sensors are PoE (Power over Ethernet) devices, so it is important to know if you currently have PoE enabled switches or if PoE injectors are needed.
– Ask the vendor how they monitor the sensors to ensure the sensors are continuing to be accurate and what steps they take to correct any possible issues such as inaccuracies or sensors that fall offline.
• Reporting Preference
– Most traffic counting vendors offer their own reporting software package and typically it is cloud based.
• Here are some questions to ask your vendor:
– What is your pricing model for the reporting platform?
– Does it require any software to be installed on our network or is the solution purely cloud based?
– Does your reporting platform only display traffic count data or can we integrate other data sources such as Point of Sale or Labor data to provide more meaningful business insight?
– If able to integrate other data, how is the integration done?
– Do you offer a ReST API for integration?
• Pricing Structure
– Different people counting vendors have different pricing structures, so your goal is to figure out the initial cost to deploy and install the system as well as any ongoing annual costs. Typically, the upfront expense includes the hardware, installation and commission the system. Annual costs typically cover supporting the system and cloud-based reporting subscription for access to the data.
Dan Aluise, General Manager