Matthew Marriott, general manager – UK, Ireland and Portugal, at Stanley Security, examines the steps DIY retailers needs to take in preparation for the government’s easing of lockdown restrictions

to meet government guidance on working safely in shops and branches. For some, a low-tech approach is being adopted, but for larger, busier sites this may not be enough to maintain social distancing and help prevent the spread of the virus. Here, technology can have a valuable role to play.


Limiting customer numbers The government’s ‘Working safely during Covid-19 in shops and branches’ booklet advises retailers to limit the number of customers in the store and at pinch points and busy areas to minimise contact. The understandable initial reaction of retailers who remained open at the start of the pandemic was to put staff on the doors to manually control the number of people entering, but this is expensive and isn’t practical for mid to long term. There are a number of options

here that can automate the solution for you. A key one, that is already in use in airports for example, is Site Occupancy Management.


system uses a 3D sensor to detect a person entering or exiting, with analytics software adjusting the count. Digital displays at entrances indicate whether a person can enter or if they need to wait. It’s all done in real time, has a high degree of accuracy and is very affordable. These come as complete systems and are quick and easy to install. A further solution involves using


ith many retailers now open

a for

business or preparing to reopen,

key focus is on how

CCTV. Used with video analytics, CCTV cameras can be configured to monitor a scene and detect when a virtual boundary line is crossed and – if linked to automated doors or turnstiles - automatically prevent access until some people have exited a store. The cameras can also detect the direction of travel across the virtual boundary line so the system is able to know if the individual is entering or exiting, even at a single point of entry. Video surveillance and video analytics can also be used inside stores to target crowds and potential problem areas. The software provides an estimation of the number of people present in a given area and can generate an alert if the occupancy of an area exceeds a specified threshold. You can then communicate with those people advising them to move apart or even to move out of the area altogether.

This solution can also

be used for hygiene, to ensure that regular cleaning of high use areas is conducted by providing alerts to cleaning staff after a specified number of visits for example. Smaller stores with smaller

budgets may want to consider a door entry system to simply lock people out to keep the numbers within limited.

Get in Line

Limiting the number of people allowed in leads to queues. Simple guides on the floor are effective but for a higher level of automation and staff protection, queues can also be monitored through CCTV, combined with an Audio Talk-down service where operatives can issue a live alert if queues become unruly. Many

might want to investigate alternative routing options or use additional signage to help direct people.

new CCTV cameras already have two-way audio so you may find you can use your existing external security cameras for this purpose.

Go with the flow One-way systems through stores, with clear floor markings


signage, are being used. People going the wrong way – referred to as ‘backtracking’ in the security sector – can be addressed through anti-backtrack monitoring systems, as


within airports. CCTV identifies people going in the wrong direction and automatically closes doors, blocking their path. Automated announcements are made to re-direct them and doors are re-opened as they move off. In a retail environment, there may not be any doors to physically prevent backtracking, but this sort of analytics could be adapted to make automatic announcements or issue a voice alert. It could also be used to highlight any problem areas where retailers

Temperature Checking Many types of businesses are now using temperature checking solutions for staff and visitors coming on-site. In a retail environment, handheld temperature measurement devices are not a suitable option due to the number of people entering. A thermal camera provides an automated alternative and means social distancing between staff and shoppers is maintained. The thermal camera can be linked to doors to allow or prevent access, or alert staff if a high temperature is detected. However, think carefully before going down this path. Firstly, consider what action you will you take if and when you identify someone with an elevated temperature. Secondly, be aware that thermal cameras are not medical devices and cannot diagnose any medical disease or virus, they only identify people with an elevated temperature.

The new norm? The changes required to make our shops a safe place to be may not be the temporary measure that some people think. With talk of second spikes of the virus, plus potential future pandemics, retailers must think ahead and put in systems, procedures, and technology that can be adapted to face future threats.

Stanley Security designs, installs, monitors and services security systems for industrial, government, commercial and retail customers.

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