It’s only now that there is serious talk of re-starting some professional sports. What that looks like remains to be seen, but one thing is pretty certain: we won’t be jamming tens of thousands of people together in one place to cheer on a team, at least not right away. Any return to “normal” will be gradual and start with way fewer people, all of whom will need to be kept appropriately socially distant. To help with this slow re-opening, WaitTime has developed two new tools to help building administrators manage crowds of people.
Spoon aficionados might remember WaitTime as the company that makes what is basically a Waze for concession stand lines. But with stadiums closed, there hasn’t been much need to find the shortest line for hot dogs.
So the company has introduced two new products: one that calculates how many people are in a certain space, and one that maps out crowd densities in different parts of a building.
Using a ceiling mounted camera, computer vision and AI, WaitTime can tell building staff how many people are entering and exiting a particular space like the bathroom (the camera is only mounted on the outside of the exits, not in the bathroom itself). It may sound odd, but the number of people allowed into a bathroom at a given time could be regulated going forward to help maintain space and stymie the spread of infection. If too many people enter, building staff can temporarily stop access to that particular spot.
The other new WaitTime tool analyzes live footage from CCTV cameras already installed at a location to create heat maps of crowd density. This can help building managers figure out where too many people are gathering too close and take appropriate measures.
As you can imagine, these crowd management tools could find a life outside of stadiums and into our everyday experiences, like the grocery store. We already saw supermarkets limit the number of people allowed in a store at any given time during this pandemic, and if we need to do so again, WaitTime’s software could automate keeping track of how many people are shopping at once.
“We have a lot of interest from grocery stores and retailers,” WaitTime Founder and CEO, Zack Klima told me by phone this week, “Because everything has to do with occupancy tracking.”
As states start to open up, we’re seeing how you can’t necessarily trust the wisdom of the crowd. But with WaitTime’s new products, stadiums and other gathering spaces can be wise about any crowds they do attract.