Innertelligence has added people counting to its tailgate detection functionality to enhance COVID-19 safety procedures for its fitness centre customers around the world.

“This has resulted in us managing the security and/or just access for many hundreds of fitness centres both in and out of major chains in Australia, New Zealand, Thailand, Hong Kong, Singapore, Netherlands and even Myanmar,” says company director, Steve Utting.

According to Utting, COVID-19 hit the fitness sector like a sledgehammer.

“The forced closures of those sites in the worst hit areas has been devastating,” Utting says. “Even when the restrictions allowed for them to re-open, restrictions were placed on the numbers allowed onsite at any one time. Our customers asked us to help. Fortunately, we have a ready-made people counting solution that rolls out with our tailgate detection solution.

“Unlike many other solutions, ours detects unique card data, counts people into the site determines valid entries and reports illegal entries as well as keeping a count of those that leave. However, using this solution involved rolling out hardware and installation teams that time simply did not permit.

According to Utting, the Innertelligence team evaluated the systems it works with and produced a method of counting those that have entered and exited the site.

“This method involved developing unique coding and deploying it onto servers that had access to the rolling review (event history) so we could watch the events the system was reporting,” he says. “Because we already captured user data from those entering the site each time they use their card, we already knew when someone was entering. We needed a means to detect they were leaving because most sites did not require badge to exit. We then needed to determine when the site had reached its limit and put a process in place to stop more from using their card to gain entry until the count had reduced.

“Our process was simple – if not a bit crude – but it worked and is now being used by many of our customers across Australia and in The Netherlands successfully. Our process was simple in theory but required some great code design from our team to get it over the line in the small amount of time from announcement of reopening with restrictions until doors open again – an advantage having our own coding team onboard.

“Given the limited processes and data that was available to us, we decided that a unique card badge followed by a door open event would constitute a single entry, multiple card badges within a specific time frame of a door open would constitute multiple entries and a door open event without a valid card badge would constitute someone leaving. This method allowed us to err on the side of caution as it could not reliably determine how many people would leave during a single door open event, but it was fairly accurate about how many people came in.”

Utting says this anomaly meant there was a possibility that more customers could be recorded onsite than were physically there.

“That meant we needed a means to check and adjust that figure against the physical,” he explains. “Because staff were required onsite during certain hours, we gave them the means to review the numbers in the club and adjust the counter on their Innertelligence Attendance Dashboard. This could also be done remotely, after viewing the site cameras they could adjust the counter on the cloud-based dashboard from anywhere. They were instructed to do a count prior to the end of their shift and correct the count. If they got a call because members could not get in, they could log onto the cameras, check the numbers onsite and then adjust if needed to free up the access.”

Keeping an eye on member count via the Attendance Dashboard is highly intuitive, according to Utting.

“Simplicity is the key, so we put an up/down arrow separated by the count number,” he says. “Once the counter hit the limit, it turned the number and the text red for effect. Even more importantly from an automation point of view, once the limit was reached, we would send code to the access system that would stop general members cards from working but still allow staff to enter as needed.”

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