VIVOTEK people counting solution deployed in Colombia shopping mall

VIVOTEK people counting solution deployed in Colombia shopping mall
The San Nicolás shopping mall in Antioquia, Colombia, has upgraded from its manual people-counting procedure into a more practical and effective IP-based VIVOTEK system.

Traditionally, people counting at shopping malls is done manually, a responsibility assigned to security personnel or guards whose primary task is to ensure public safety and protect the property of the mall and its tenants. To carry out this task, security personnel use a pushbutton that they activate whenever a person enters the building. However they have other tasks to take care of, which prevents full reliability and effectiveness in the counting process.

Thus shopping malls are faced with a dilemma. It is important to count the number of people that visit them in order to determine the traffic flow and their potential customers, and even to determine issues such as the rent of particular high-traffic premises. Further, a number of marketing, infrastructure, events and other type of decisions are made based on the counting metrics. However, by employing security staff for this task, valuable human resources are taken up without a satisfactory end result.

Requirements of the Mall – VIVOTEK Comes out on Top
The distributer, ICONTRONIX had previously worked with this client. "In the third stage of the mall we installed the complete security system, the fire control system, the CCTV, the surround sound system, the loudspeakers system, and implemented the monitoring center", says Carlos Sanchez, Marketing Manager at ICONTRONIX.

For this reason, the mall management asked the company to provide them with a people counting system. "We made an offer with two or three alternatives in the market and VIVOTEK was chosen. After testing, it definitely was the best option because its cameras both incorporate a counter function and armed with a robust software for reporting", points out Sanchez.

The solution – VIVOTEK’s SC8131 3D Stereo Network Camera
This project had two stages of implementation. The first was the establishment of infrastructure: the wiring, pipes, switches and the communication elements. The second phase, nearly a week long, focused on the installation of the cameras. It was also necessary to hold another week of testing to compare the results with manual counting and video recordings.

The solution was installed in the six pedestrian entrances of the mall. Six units of VIVOTEK’s stereo network camera, the SC8131 were installed – linked intelligently together by VIVOTEK’s professional video management software, VAST.

Carlos Sanchez was extremely satisfied with the results: "Each installed camera works independently collecting its coverage statistics and reporting to the server regularly.” These individual cameras, smart on their own, become even more powerful and flexible when connected. As Sanchez added, “The reports can be exported from the server and organized in different formats.”

Effectiveness and Reliability – Even in the Shadows
Sanchez, always focused on reliability, took great pains to confirm that if the camera performance parameters were met, the percentage of accuracy would be around 95 percent: "For example, we carried out tests with people who walked in hugging each other, and the camera detects them as two people when the heads are separated." The cameras are ideally mounted at a height of 3.6 meters and at a distance from the entrance of approximately 5 meters. When mounted in this way, the camera offers the ability to discriminate objects by their height. For example, supermarket carts are not detected as people. The hi-resolution power of VIVOTEK’s SC8131 can also differentiate shadows from people. This sets the SC8131 apart from other analytics-focused cameras which work only when the pixels in the image change; in such cases shadows interfere with metrics. 3

"This camera has two lenses and therefore works with a sort of triangulation, which allows for depth perception like the eyes of human beings. As shadows have no depth, the camera is not confused by them," says Sanchez.

The ICONTRONIX manager is also excited that reports generated from VIVOTEK’s system can be arranged according to the customer's needs. "We have a counter per camera, so it is possible to know the number of people going through every entrance, all entrances, or two particular entrances. A variety of options are available to suit any need.”

The Brand Perspective
Cristian Gomez, Colombia Country Manager for VIVOTEK, states that this mall is the first of its kind in the world to have fully implemented this solution. "We have several similar projects underway across various countries which feature different scenarios and thus different requirements."

So, why has VIVOTEK decided to launch a camera that incorporates a people-counting solution? Gomez explains: "The company identified this growing need in the market. We had been asked about this feature and always depended on a third party – either for the recorder or the recording software. But this solution meant that accuracy rates sometimes fell below expectations, not due to the camera itself but to the software, because a number of the algorithm’s features failed to be as efficient as when carried out onboard the camera itself.”

When it is the camera that performs the analytics, it relieves the server's workload, which means that a more affordable and less robust server is needed - the processing is carried out at the “edge”. As this is a customized solution, it does not require much output bandwidth. The camera regularly feeds the server with data, but at low bandwidth due to the low levels of data required to report counting. At the same time, as a matter of audit, images are recorded randomly to enable fine tuning.
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