Video Surveillance & Physical Security Industry Viewpoints
April 16th, 2024
Author: Tristan Foro

BriefCam Bytes: Crowd Counting

What is Crowd Counting?

Crowd counting, simply put, is a technology for crowd management that estimates crowd sizes in real-time for a given area. This functionality is critical for many scenarios but is of particular use in instances and locations where effective crowd management is paramount to public safety: stadiums, event venues, malls, airports, and more. Crowd counting facilitates timely alerting and intervention when crowds reach specified thresholds, helping to maintain order and ensure individual well-being.

A New Algorithm for Comprehensive Crowd Safety

The addition of Crowd Counting in the new 2024 R2 version release builds upon the already robust crowd management features in the BriefCam Video Analytics Platform. So, what makes Crowd Counting different from other counting algorithms like People Counting and Group Detection for our users? With BriefCam, when crowds surpass 50 people, Crowd Counting algorithms automatically replace People Counting algorithms, if the Crowd Counting functionality is activated on the camera. This seamless shift empowers more accurate and effective management of large crowds. To better understand the full suite of BriefCam’s crowd management algorithms, let’s explore the capabilities of each category:

1. People Counting:  

    • Purpose: Count the number of individuals passing through a specific point or area.
    • Application: Understand foot traffic patterns for business operations or security.
    • Methodology: Detect and track individuals as they enter or exit a defined area, cross a defined line, or pass through doorways.

2. Group Detection: 

    • Purpose: Alert on clusters of individuals within a monitored area for a set amount of time. A solution between People Counting and Crowd Counting.
    • Application: Identify group formation or loitering behavior within a pre-defined area
    • Methodology: Define inputs – like area size, number of people, and time spent in the area – to generate alerts when the criteria are met.

3. Crowd Counting:  

    • Purpose: Estimate the total number of people within a larger crowd or area, rather than those just passing through a specific point.
    • Application: Estimate the overall size of a crowd for safety, security, or planning. Commonly used for public events, demonstrations, stadiums, and urban areas.
    • Methodology: Account for factors like crowd density, occlusion, and movement patterns. The most comprehensive counting algorithm for large crowds.

Crowd Counting Applications

Demonstrations, Protests, & Rallies
Initially, a gathering of 20 people may seem innocuous. However, as the crowd swells to 50, 100, or more, the need for rapid law enforcement response becomes essential. Once law enforcement receives the alert that a crowding threshold has been surpassed, they can immediately initiate protocol for the situation. While closing roads and deploying officers is standard for demonstrations, the added situational awareness empowers proactive policing strategy instead of response events already out of hand.

Special Events & Releases
Similarly, in retail environments, crowd counting plays a pivotal role, particularly during highly anticipated product releases. Instances like the frenzy witnessed during the Stanley Cup promotion at Target underscores the urgency of using crowd counting to strategically monitor and dynamically respond to crowd size. When preparing for a major product release, a retail store can analyze typical store traffic and layout and create a plan for launch day that includes optimized layouts, increased staff and security, strategic signage, and more. Then, knowing the areas that could experience dangerous crowding, security and management teams can enable real-time Crowd Counting alerts that enhance situational awareness of dynamic changes in the store environment. In this way, retailers can mitigate the safety risks that can accompany social media-fueled excitement.

Crowd Counting is a significant addition to BriefCam’s crowd management solution suite.

Explore 2024 R2, and let us turn your crowd management challenges into opportunities for efficiency and safety.