Video Surveillance & Physical Security Industry Viewpoints
September 2nd, 2020
Author: Lizzi Goldmeier

How Entertainment and Hospitality Venues can Efficiently Comply with COVID Health and Safety Standards

How casinos, hotels, and theme parks drive increased value from video surveillance

In some parts of the globe, entertainment and hospitality venues (hotels, casinos, theme parks, etc.) are reopening as COVID-19 restrictions are relaxed, but businesses must comply with new building occupancy regulations, face masking, and physical distancing rules. Public health mandates apply to both staff and visitors/guests, which means that the “new normal” will entail increased responsibility for human resources, guest services, security, operations, and maintenance teams. Reopening safely — and in compliance with emerging mandates — will require a combination of human effort and technology such as intelligent video surveillance.

Many venues already have video surveillance (CCTV) cameras, which they use to monitor the property or investigate an incident using video footage post-event. To complement those camera networks, video content analytic systems harness the valuable data that is recorded by those video cameras. Powered by Deep Learning and Artificial Intelligence technologies, video content analysis processes video to identify and classify objects in the video footage (people, vehicles, and other items), and then index them to enable easy and quick video search and analysis based on quantifiable and actionable information. By aggregating video data over time and visualizing the information, video content analysis software provides business intelligence that helps operations and security staff understand trends, make decisions and develop strategies and contingency plans.  This post will focus on how such venues can reopen responsibly and efficiently with the aid of video content analytics technology, and how companies can benefit in multiple ways from that technology, both during and after the pandemic.

Track building occupancy and prevent crowding

Increasingly, the number of people allowed in indoor and outdoor facilities is being restricted to prevent the risk of COVID transmission via overcrowding. To be able to open, some venues must prove their ability to measure and maintain safe building occupancy limits. In the state of Nevada, for instance, the “Health and Safety Policies for Resumption of Gaming Operations” mandate that “in order to achieve the social distancing guidelines issued by federal, state, and local health authorities, plans must limit a property’s occupancy to no more than fifty percent (50%) of the occupancy limit assigned to each gaming area of the property by local building and fire codes. Licensees’ Plans should detail how compliance with this occupancy limit reduction will be achieved, which may include, without limitation, head counts by security personnel, utilization of a licensee’s existing surveillance systems, and making use of a licensee’s slot accounting system to aid in monitoring the number of patrons on the casino floor.”

Bear in mind that occupancy limits apply to employees as well. Meeting these compliance requirements can be a logistical headache for operations and security teams; even with a video surveillance system, it would be difficult to monitor the number of people in a room or building, because there are not enough staff resources to monitor every camera. Furthermore, human observations are prone to error. Video analytics helps security teams manage building occupancy, by tracking occupancy in real time and triggering rule-based people-count alerts when the number of people in a building exceeds a pre-determined threshold. Once alerted, managers or security staff can investigate the quantity and density of the crowd formation and take necessary action to protect the visitors and staff on-site.

For reporting building occupancy patterns and deriving statistical data, the video analytics system can be used for generating occupancy trend reports based on surveillance data. In addition to providing information for auditing purposes, this intelligence can help security and operations teams better understand where and why crowds form and make data-driven decisions to proactively prevent future crowding.

Optimize cleaning and maintenance operations

Occupancy reports are a great way for managers to understand which areas are highly trafficked and typical crowd counts for popular areas, such as a restroom or food court. Both for reducing the spread of COVID and for the sake of customer satisfaction and workplace safety, managers can also leverage this data to ensure a clean, sanitized environment. Video content analytics software enables operations teams to facilitate cleaning based on visitor traffic and usage, instead of traditional time-based models, for more efficient and effective property maintenance. By determining traffic thresholds for entering certain rooms, hallways, or other spaces, operators can develop line-crossing and people counting rules and trigger alerts to maintenance, as needed

Uphold physical distancing & mask wearing prevention tactics

To protect visitors from the risk of COVID infection, venues must abide by whatever local, state, or federal mandates and recommendations are in place: Commonly, government agencies require that people practice physical distancing (keeping at least six feet apart), and that employees and guests wear face masks. Video content analysis can be used for extracting face mask and proximity metadata, so that video can be searched, alerted on and analyzed based on face mask and proximity identification filters. In this way, entertainment and hospitality venues can know in real time and over time how consistently visitors and staff are complying with these public health mandates and determine how best to enforce these safety measures based on actionable and quantifiable data.

Conduct contact tracing

Guests and employees typically interact in a number of ways; food and beverage, housecleaning, spa, concierge, and maintenance staff are among the many employees who regularly interact with guests. Given that public health agencies have COVID-19 contact tracing programs, and there are workplace health and safety standards, it’s now important for companies to be able to quickly determine which of their employees or guests may have been in contact with an infected individual. Companies can facilitate contact tracing by using a combination of facial recognition and proximity identification filters to pinpoint where that infected person was during an infectious stage, and note the proximity and duration of that person’s contact with other employees or guests. The venue may then advise anyone who was exposed to self-quarantine.

Improve security and business operations during and after the pandemic

Of course, video content analysis is used for many other purposes outside of the pandemic public health crisis, by various departments within an organization, such as security, marketing, and operations. For example, security can use the technology to accelerate incident investigations, while marketing can gather demographic visitor data, and operations can quantify pedestrian and vehicle traffic patterns throughout a venue.

By complementing their existing video surveillance systems with video content analysis, hospitality and entertainment venues will be able to provide proof of compliance with COVID restrictions, and provide a safer, more pleasant experience for their visitors and employees. In addition, they’ll be able to use the technology in other ways to optimize their security, operations, customer service, marketing, and planning departments, during and after the pandemic.

More on video analytics for hospitality and entertainment here.