Photo Credit: Occuspace

Amid Surging COVID Outbreaks, Universities Turn to Occuspace Crowd Monitoring Technology for a Safer Fall Term

Tuesday, September 14, 2021 2:18:00 PM

- University campuses remain hotbeds of controversy amid vaccine and/or mask mandates. Easy-to-implement occupancy technology offers a less resistant way to ensure a safer campus. -

As campuses scramble to reopen in-person instruction despite the surge in new Coronavirus cases, more and more universities are turning to Occuspace to provide a safer experience for faculty, staff and students. The company's innovative people-counting technology monitors crowds and real-time use of popular spaces such as gyms, dining halls and libraries.

Despite recent FDA approval of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, university campuses have been at the center of controversy amid vaccine and/or mask mandates. A recent survey conducted by the Center for Postsecondary Research at Indiana University Bloomington reveals that over 40% of the 40,000 college freshman respondents are concerned about their health and safety entering college. At Baylor University in Waco, Texas, the school is requiring incoming and returning students who are unvaccinated to get tested twice a week at a designated location on campus. They chose to install Occuspace's people-counting technology in the testing center to allow students to see how busy it is before they go to avoid frustration and ensure they get tested.

"We want to make the COVID testing experience as convenient—and safe—as possible for students," said Eric Ames, assistant director for marketing and communications for Baylor ITS. "Allowing them to see in real-time how busy the testing center is before they go can help improve the odds they get tested in a timely manner that fits with their schedule."

The Occuspace easy-to-implement occupancy technology and data are gaining rapid adoption and interest from dozens of universities across North America as a way to help tame outbreaks, even amid resistance to mask and vaccine mandates. In addition to Baylor University, the University of Denver, UC San Diego, Rice University and McGill University are among many higher education institutions using occupancy monitoring technology to manage campus spaces and help minimize the spread of the virus.

The Occuspace sensor technology plugs into a wall outlet to monitor Wi-Fi and Bluetooth signals privately using a sophisticated algorithm to relay space occupancy in real-time. The technology anonymously measures foot traffic for use by space planning teams to manage and plan for more efficient use of buildings as well as librarians, dining hall, and recreation teams to watch live use of spaces to maintain capacity requirements and improve the student experience. The company's free mobile Waitz app allows students to watch for crowds in popular campus spaces to stay socially distanced and reduce frustration and/or trepidation by avoiding crowded spaces.

At McGill University in Canada, requirements for bringing students back to campus include one-meter physical distancing in spaces like the popular McLennan-Redpath Library Complex. Katherine Hanz is the associate dean of user services at McLennan-Redpath and commented that she is appreciative they are starting this year with the Occuspace technology, which is used by the administration to monitor space use in real-time and to help students navigate campus spaces safely.

"Going into this fall, this is technology that will be immensely helpful for our library teams to virtually 'see' how many students are in our spaces and reduce the need to require staff to do head counting in the library to ensure we remain COVID compliant," said Hanz. "We wouldn't have an easy way of determining specifically how many people are in our library at any time without this data."

Over 300,000 university students across the U.S. and Canada can now have safer experiences on campus thanks to the Occuspace people-counting technology. Over the past year, the company has seen growing demand for its innovative solution that privately measures minute-by-minute occupancy in a space.

SOURCE: Occuspace