Many customers are still not sure if investing in COVID-19 solutions is worth it. Would the arrival of a vaccine make most COVID devices unnecessary?
COVID-19 has prompted the rise in popularity of several solutions, like AI-enabled temperature monitoring devices, contactless access control, and social distancing monitoring solutions. Many customers have already purchased them, while some are still not sure whether COVID-19 will last long enough to warrant such an investment.
A vaccine for COVID-19 may be here sooner than we thought, and this would mean a lot of solutions intended to deal with the pandemic would become useless. Or would it? Should we begin planning for a post-pandemic world? We spoke to Ettiene Van Der Watt, Director of Business Development at Axis Communications MEA, to get his thoughts on this.
The future of COVID Solutions in the retail industry
Retail is among the most affected industries due to COVID-19, initially because of government-imposed lockdowns and later because going to a store posed risks of running into people who may be infected. Video analytic solution providers had come up with solutions that could monitor social distancing for this.
Video analytics, in combination with network cameras, can be used to monitor occupancy as well as distancing and compliance with rules for the use of facemasks. When combined with audio solutions, technology can be used to manage customer flows, remind people to keep a distance or advise to comply with other recommendations. The occupancy information can be displayed at entrances to assist guards and enable customers to decide to enter or not, based on live data. But what will retailers do with such analytics after the pandemic?
“Although footfall has always been a critical metric, current regulations demand that retailers limit the number of customers in-store at any one time,”
Van Der Watt explained. “Occupancy estimators help to maintain a safe environment by regulating the number of customers entering a store, allowing staff to focus on providing great customer service while remaining compliant.”
When the immediate regulations ease, the same technology can be used to analyze customer flow throughout stores and identify peak visiting times. This can help to inform future decisions - such as store planning and effective staff allocation - and measuring the success of marketing campaigns.
Touchless access control for faster service tomorrow
Supporting and maintaining a clean environment is critical for retailers. But with staff touching several surfaces during a shift, controlling the spread of germs can be a challenge. Retailers can help minimize contact with certain surfaces – such as door handles – by implementing touchless access control.
“While hygiene will always be a priority, touchless entry into private areas of the store brings additional benefits in customer service,”
Van Der Watt said. “When the system authorizes a staff member, the solution automatically grants access. Touchless access control streamlines staff movement around the store, saving valuable time and effort, which can be focused on delivering the best possible customer experience.”
Network audio solutions for better customer service tomorrow
In an altered retail environment, customers often forget to follow public health guidelines. Retailers can support them by using network audio technology to automatically share pre-recorded reminders regarding washing hands and keeping physical distance. These messages can be tailored to specific zones of the store, inside and outside, ensuring that they are relevant and helpful.
Audio communication remains a powerful tool when interacting with customers in-store, especially when providing promotional information or service-related messages. However, the benefits of audio aren’t limited to customers; retailers can use live audio alerts to communicate efficiently with staff to improve customer service throughout the store.
“Imagine a lone customer in the bedroom and accessories aisle,” Van Der Watt explained. “The system detects this and triggers an announcement, ‘hello, our representatives will be with you shortly and take you through our special offers on bedroom sets.’ Customized and zoned announcements can bring a new level of interaction with your customers.”
The future of COVID Solutions in critical infrastructure
Periods of lockdown and social distancing have left numerous power stations, water treatment plants, and other essential utilities with fewer employees on site. Connected surveillance technology can help smaller teams manage and secure multiple sites - often remote or difficult to access - from a centralized control room. Video and audio solutions allow operators to detect, verify, identify, track, and deter intruders in real-time. Critical processes can be monitored, with alerts to incidents prompting maintenance or response.
Van Der Watt noted that t
he same surveillance systems, coupled with intelligent analytics, allow for the monitoring of health and safety policy adherence - including the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) - and evaluate risks in real-time. They can also monitor processes in hazardous areas and ensure only authorized personnel are granted access. Live and pre-recorded announcements can mitigate the risks of accidents and injuries.
Health precautions?that would be daily operations tomorrow
Throughout industrial sites and manufacturing facilities, combined smart video and audio solutions can be used to monitor employees and remind them to follow public health guidelines during working hours. Live and pre-recorded messages can prompt employees to maintain social distance, wear appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE), and regularly wash their hands.
The same audio solutions will also continue to support daily operations by keeping the workforce informed through announcements. Whether live or pre-recorded, messages can be used to inform and alert workers to safety and security issues, such as warnings if employees get too close to hazardous areas and reminders to wear required PPE.
Remote monitoring for health and safety tomorrow
Strict procedures concerning hygiene are a central part of food production, and currently, heightened levels of control are in place. Network video solutions, smart analytics, and network audio can monitor for compliance with public health guidelines and PPE policies, issuing instructions and warnings. Connected access control features ensure that only authorized personnel enters the food production area.
The same combination of video surveillance and audio features allows operators to visually verify any alerts or alarms concerning critical production equipment, facilitating proactive maintenance, and monitoring operational trends for process optimization,”
Van Der Watt noted.
The future of COVID-19 solutions in smart cities
Social distancing is currently an essential part of public health and contagion management. Network video solutions make it easier to enforce distancing orders by identifying, quantifying, and analyzing the distance between individuals, over time, throughout multiple locations. The systems generate alerts, warnings, and statistics for further action.
Beyond immediate social distancing, these solutions can help law enforcement and safety officials to track and manage crowds during events and demonstrations, as well as enabling secure evacuation when necessary.?
Communication for emergency management
Clarity of communication is central to citizen safety. Alongside video surveillance, audio network solutions enable both pre-recorded and live announcements to remind people of and enforce social distancing regulations and disperse gatherings larger than those allowed.
“The same combination of video surveillance and audio solutions allows you to communicate real-time instructions and safety information in the event of an emergency or natural disaster,” said
Van Der Watt.
Maintain traffic flow today. Analyze traffic flow tomorrow
The current crisis has led to a dramatic drop in the use of public transport, putting more cars, bicycles, and pedestrians on the street. Video-based traffic management solutions provide data and insights that can help cities react to these rapid changes, making it easier to plan and develop solutions for emerging challenges to urban mobility.
Van Der Watt pointed out that w
hen the crisis ends, these same solutions can be used to analyze and improve the daily flow of traffic, increasing road safety by maintaining control of intersections, simplifying incident management, and monitoring the status of pedestrians and cyclists.
Temporary surveillance for COVID - deployable security tomorrow
The recent pandemic has seen the widespread use of temporary structures, particularly for emergency healthcare needs, for which safety and security are paramount. According to
Van Der Watt, a deployable surveillance solution from Axis, consisting of one or more network cameras, a pre-configured cabinet with built-in 4G/LTE router, and software for remote video management and viewing - can be used to monitor such facilities or temporarily crowded areas.
Once installed, you benefit from remote access to live and recorded high-resolution video, automatic alerts for perimeter activity and intrusion, and a flexible, scalable, reliable surveillance solution that does not require an on-site physical network. Construction sites, extensive roadworks, festivals, and sporting events can all benefit from deployable surveillance and security.