Building Occupancy at University Dining Halls

building occupancy at university dining halls

Over 300 colleges and universities use SenSource people counting systems, mainly in student unions and libraries. In response to the pandemic, university dining halls have become the next campus entity to rely on SenSource to streamline operations, like monitoring building occupancy.

To best reach this new group of professionals, we are proud to join NACUFS, The National Association of College and University Food Services. This organization supports the higher education foodservice market by providing programs and resources, like their new COVID-19 Resources Page. We look forward to further engaging with this new community of foodservice professionals!

University dining halls have unique problems to solve in order to reopen safely for students and staff. Unknown factors add another layer of complexity to planning such as fall student enrollment, budget deficits, and the everchanging safety guidelines. One thing that seems to be consistent for all businesses reopening to the public is to practice social distancing. In order to do so, dining halls must track building occupancy to limit the number of people inside at a time.

SenSource’s SafeSpace Building Occupancy Monitoring Solution assists Foodservice Directors in accommodating social distancing. As an automated system, it doesn’t require staff to monitor the entrances. In NACUFS’ COVID-19 weekly member poll in late April, respondents stated concerns with the availability of student workers and also a concern for turning self-serve stations into staff served stations. It’s evident that a foodservice employee’s shift will be of much higher value serving customers and enforcing new sanitization protocols than counting people enter and exit the dining hall.

Utilizing SafeSpace’s heads-up display, you can simply place a TV at the entrance to show customers the current building occupancy status and if it’s ok to enter or to wait. This gives students the information they need to make an informed decision on whether to dine, wait, or return later. The SafeSpace URL can also be displayed on a website or social media to show live building occupancy status so customers can plan their visit accordingly.  While reservation systems are an option, they don’t allow for flexibility that many students need in their schedule for when to dine.

The NACUFS member poll also stated a common regulations concern is the enforcement of safety protocols and managing the perception of service. Should the university board or local government require proof of compliance, SafeSpace’s reporting tools make it simple. You can report on historical building occupancy status to prove compliance, then schedule a weekly automated report to share information.

Between the customer-facing occupancy displays and the back-end reporting tools, it will be obvious the dining hall is taking safety protocols seriously and is viewing customer safety as priority.

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