Moving from a Tally Counter to an Automated People Counting System

5 min read
Jul 3, 2020

While manual tally counters may have been helpful in the past, there's no denying that this method of monitoring footfall in a busy space is often inaccurate and subject to human error. With the increasing importance of measuring occupancy and ensuring that commercial, industrial, and office spaces aren't overcrowded for health and safety reasons, simply pressing a button to account for someone's entry into an area that welcomes a high volume of visitors every day becomes unreliable and expensive, – especially if used over a long period of time. 


To truly enhance safety on-site and discover new ways to optimise your building, you should consider upgrading to an automated people counting system. 

Find out more about how SafeCount can help you to comply with Covid-19 social  distancing regulations.

Defining manual solutions


Tally counters

tally counter blog

There are numerous tally counters on the market, the more traditional type being a mechanical piece of equipment that requires the user to press a button in order to account for a new person entering a building or area. More recently, software companies have developed apps that can be used on mobile devices to do much the same thing, except you are still unable to gain valuable analytical data that allows you to review and optimise business operations. 


The issue with both these models is that they rely on an individual to accurately observe footfall which is subject to miscounting and only really works in low traffic areas and where the building only has one door to enter and exit. Aside from accuracy issues, you're also losing valuable resources when paying a wage for an activity that can be entirely automated and provide greater insights. 


Smartphone counting

smartphone counter

Smartphone counting refers to a system which collects Wi-Fi probe request signals from entrants' smartphones. It's an effective way of recording returning customers and captures data inside and outside of a building. The system can also provide information on dwell times and track people throughout the vicinity. 


Although this isn't classified as a manual solution, it's one that is extremely limited. For the system to be effective, it relies on the fact that every visitor will have a smartphone, this excludes children and other non-mobile device users. This means that the data captured is not accurate and is only a sample of the people actually entering your building. 


Furthermore, many individuals have legitimate concerns about their privacy and question the ethical aspect of being tracked as well as where the data is being stored. 


Why automated people counters work better in retail

Retail stores usually experience a high level of footfall in and out of the premises from multiple entrances and exits, making it impossible for someone to stand at the door and accurately track footfall traffic with a manual tally counter. For example, imagine a scenario where three people are entering, and four are going out. And what happens when the employee responsible for the tally counter needs to go on a break or is asked a question by a customer and misses several walk-ins?


The Irisys SafeCount real-time occupancy monitoring solution tracks people coming in and out of a building, regardless of volume. This is a crucial feature at a time when social distancing and health and safety are significantly affecting how retailers operate and how many people they can safely let into their stores at any given time. The data needs to be as accurate as possible, as a minor error in counting could mean 1 in 20 people are not counted as opposed to 1 in 200 people not counted. The SafeCount system can connect to a screen, speaker or traffic lights and provide visual alerts and audio warnings to incoming visitors, giving them a clear signal they see and hear in order to follow. 

SafeCount Solution Overview - 2


An automated people counting system is a one-off investment that works without a rolling financial commitment to costs such as wages, and will continue to provide ROI well into the future. The data provided by people counting sensors is multidimensional and can be used to greatly benefit a retailer's decision-making process. The system offers a low-cost way of gaining accurate information to help understand the value of each customer. When you have reliable insight into footfall, you can see whether the KPIs set for specific locations are achievable. This is particularly useful for franchisees who can use the information when trying to optimise particular store locations and processes by looking at metrics such as lowest value per customer stores. 


For analytics beyond footfall, retailers can install additional sensors within the store to capture advanced analytics that provide information on how long it may be taking customers to get assistance at specific counters and departments and plan their staffing needs accordingly. 


Many retail stores acknowledge that occupancy data is a missed opportunity in understanding customers better and offering enhanced experiences. People counting sensors can provide data to measure against transaction records and enable stores to track conversion rate and performance. Store managers can extract even more value from occupancy sensors by planning staffing, cleaning, and repair schedules around peak visitor times. 


Using automated people counters for workspaces

With reasonable concerns about how offices and manufacturing outlets are going to observe social distancing and hygiene regulations, it's essential to find reliable solutions. How will you monitor occupancy levels of individual floors, office rooms, and high traffic areas such as washrooms and canteens? 


According to researchers, 93% of workers want social distancing to be implemented in the workplace along with other health and safety measures; on the flip side, privacy is also a concern, in that employees don’t want to be personally identified by tracking or monitoring devices.    

social distancing in a office

The SafeCount system addresses all of these concerns by collecting anonymous information and feeding it back to your operations and maintenance teams. The system can monitor your entire site and accumulate real-time data, sending instant alerts to managers and employees when an area has reached capacity, as well as displaying visual warnings and alerts on locally positioned screens. This reduces the risk of people congregating in overcrowded spaces or making unnecessary trips to parts of the building, which may be momentarily unavailable.


A demand based approach to cleaning communal areas will help to ease anxiety about the hygiene levels in shared facilities. Through effective monitoring, the risk of disease is minimised, helping to prevent absences and productivity decline. Employees will feel safer and more open to returning to work.


Businesses looking to consolidate space can also make data-based decisions by studying utilisation of meeting rooms, departments and common spaces throughout the building such as cafes, collaborative workspaces and gyms. 

Ultimately, this boost in operational efficiency allows businesses to benefit in the following ways:

  • Underutilised spaces are optimised.
  • Washrooms are monitored anonymously and cleaned relative to how often they are being used. 

Improving your infrastructure with a cost-effective people counting sensor will help to create better conditions for your employees and improved experiences for your customers. In light of current global events, organisations need to ramp up the safety and efficiency within their buildings while also optimising their budgets and allocating resources to areas of the business that needed it the most. 


SafeCount is an automated people counting system that helps staff and customers in all types of industries to feel safe and prioritised thanks to accurate, real-time data. For further information on our SafeCount sensors, click below. 

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