Jul 25, 2020 - Health

The coronavirus must-have: crowd-counting apps

A rendition of Density's people-counting product in use at an office.

A rendition of Density's people-counting product in use at an office. Image courtesy of Density

A startup that provides anonymous people-counting software for companies has seen business boom during the pandemic.

Why it matters: As everything from offices to restaurants begin to reopen, employers will need to closely monitor capacity to prevent dangerous crowding. Smart apps can help manage the numbers and keep outbreaks to a minimum.

What's happening: Density says it has recorded more revenue over the past 75 days than over all of 2019.

  • The company says it can provide with 99% accuracy a running count of the number of people entering or exiting a physical space — without using cameras, which helps shield employee and customer privacy.

Background: Density was "born out of laziness," says Aleks Strub, the company's chief marketing officer.

  • A group of entrepreneurs in Syracuse wanted a way to easily tell whether their favorite coffee shop was crowded or not. They eventually developed proprietary depth sensors, roughly the size and shape of a showerhead, that could keep count of people.
  • The initial use case was building optimization, says Strub. With as much as 40% of workplace real estate going unused in normal times, Density could help owners get the most out of their physical space by tracking who was using what and when.

When COVID-19 hit, however, Density "pivoted to become a safety company," says Strub.

  • A couple of months ago the company introduced a feature called Safe , which provides visual feedback that lets employees and customers know it is safe to enter a space when the number of people occupying it is below a set limit per square foot.
  • The service can also send out alerts for when a conference room or other indoor space needs to be cleaned by tracking how many people have occupied it for a certain amount of time.

The bottom line: With bars, restaurants and offices only being allowed to reopen with reduced capacity, businesses will need scalable technological solutions to ensure they're following the rules.

  • "There's no world where businesses won't have to get smarter about how they use their buildings," says Strub.

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