Numerous businesses have pivoted their offerings during the COVID-19 pandemic, either to keep their lights on or to help others get through this trying time safely.
Take Menlo Park, CA-based BlueZoo for example. Since 2016, BlueZoo has offered a product, BlueFox that has been typically used to provide out of home advertisers with foot traffic analytics, using pedestrians’ cell phones to count how many people pass by a potential advertising location. The company recently announced that it would use its BlueFox technology to help building owners monitor occupancy and follow social distancing guidelines with BlueFox “Count.” The BlueFox tech has already been widely used in hospitality venues to track occupancy in restaurants and cafeterias, including universities impacted by COVID-19.
The BlueFox Count solution measures real-time occupancy by using Wi-Fi probes from cell phones to measure people’s presence and aggregate flow through a space. BlueFox will help prevent overcrowded spaces without needing someone keeping a headcount at the door. Instead, the solution will alert the necessary parties when a building exceeds the preset occupancy threshold. Additionally, BlueFox customers can predict wait time to get into the building because the solution knows when customers generally leave depending on the occupancy level.
“Overcrowding, both indoors and outdoors, can pose a serious threat to public health during the Covid-19 pandemic,” BlueFox CEO Bill Evans said in a statement. “By using mobile phones as a proxy for people, BlueFox products monitor a space without the overhead of continuous staff attention. BlueFox alerts businesses before conditions become dangerous and tracks historical patterns of crowding. We help keep businesses, their staff, and their customers safe.”
One BlueFox sensor can survey an area up to 300,000 square feet. The solution senses all of the mobile devices located within a distance of up to 300 feet from the sensor and reports how many phones are detected within that space. The range can also be reduced to measure smaller areas and the SmartDetect feature can exclude “always present” devices from the count.
Unlike cameras, BlueFox can measure “unique visitors” and the share of unique visitors that have visited, once, twice, three-times, or more. They can also track how unique visitors move around a space. The BlueFox products collect no personal information—not even mobile phone number—and are GDPR-certified by privacy-specialist ePrivacy of Hamburg, Germany.
BlueZoo poised to help CRE owners post-pandemic
The BlueFox Count solution will help CRE owners observe social distancing guidelines by preventing overcrowding, but the platform will still be useful even as the pandemic subsides. BlueFox can measure foot traffic in retail locations just as it does in OOH advertisement locations.
The BlueFox sensor is placed at the center of the space where visitors are measured, and the analyze feature counts the number of visitors in two ranges—inside the inner perimeter and inside the outer perimeter—discarding probes from beyond the outer perimeter. The dual-range visitor counter helps stores maximize the share of outer zone visitors that stop and spend time in the store to make a purchase. BlueZoo considers this the calculated foot traffic “conversion ratio” between shoppers and overall location traffic.
Meanwhile, the BlueFox technology can tell the difference between “passersby’” and actual shoppers based on dwell time. If someone spends less than a minute walking through an inner zone to catch their flight at an airport, they might be a passerby rather than a shopper. Excluding passersby lets BlueFox customers calculate their true sales conversion rates—sales transactions per true shoppers.
“Mall owners by knowing how people move about the mall can modify signage to influence the way people move,” Evans told Connected Real Estate Magazine. “If you want more foot traffic here or there, they can do things. We can then measure the results. There’s nothing more magical in making a sales case than quantifying the benefit that you’re providing.”
Joe Dyton can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.