Restaurants Allowed To Reopen Thanks To Philips’ PeopleCount

Philips Professional Display Solutions’ new Android-powered queue management signage and camera solution, PeopleCount, is helping the food and beverage industry to safely reopen their establishments as COVID-19 lockdown measures are eased across Europe.  

PeopleCount was created and launched in April as an immediate response to the sudden changes and challenges being faced by businesses, as capacity and social distancing become key concerns and requirements.

Following last month’s announcement a leading retailer in the Netherlands had installed PeopleCount, popular restaurant/bar, Apteekkari, in Kuopio, Finland, has become the first in its industry to re-open using the PeopleCount solution – with immediate positive results. 

Apteekkari is a three-story bar and restaurant complex operated by Osuuskauppa PeeÄs – a Finnish organisation employing more than 2,000 staff in northern Savonia (Savo), in Finland, including retail, restaurants, hotels, and service stations. 

The venue provides a wide range of hospitality services, including extensive food and drink menus, an always populated dance floor and regular live entertainment. These can be enjoyed in the main bar and restaurant areas, or, for those happy to brave the Finnish weather, on the rooftop terrace. 

As in other parts of Europe and the wider world, Finland has started the gradual and careful process of easing its lockdown rules and returning to some sense of normality. Like other industries, social distancing in restaurants is now a key requirement and, for Osuuskauppa PeeÄs, commitment to the safety of its customers, staff and indeed the wider community is and has always been a top priority. 

With high footfall, monitoring capacity is a full-time job – taking existing staff away from their daily tasks or creating a costly additional expense by increasing headcount. Apteekkari sought a dedicated solution to help easily and accurately monitor capacity on its rooftop terrace, to ensure social distancing is maintained at all times and to provide a simple and clear way of communicating with customers – both during and post COVID-19.  

The Apteekkari management team turned to long-time partner Avek Esitysratkaisut Oy, a local AV integration firm with whom it has worked with for around 20 years for the installation of nearly all its audio and signage requirements inside its 70-plus locations. 

A specialist for the hospitality and restaurant industry for over a decade, Avek has a long-standing relationship with Philips Professional Display Solutions, choosing the manufacturer as the brand of choice for almost all installations inside Osuuskauppa PeeÄs locations to date.

Jari Pöykiö, sales manager at Avek, comments, “Finnish regulations for restaurants are very tough during normal times. But these are not normal times. Keeping people safe and socially distanced to help reduce the potential spread of a new and invisible enemy (COVID-19) is a major consideration for many industries and this presents some major challenges. That’s where technology can play a vital role and that’s why we again turned to Philips Professional Display Solutions.”

With time critical, Avek discovered Philips Professional Display Solutions’ PeopleCount offering – a brand new, smart, queue management solution combining Android-powered displays with intelligent camera technology and bespoke software to monitor and manage venue capacity, without staff assistance. 

PeopleCount was created and deployed as a direct result of COVID-19, built for usability and flexibility, with minimal training required and suitable for a range of verticals, including retail stores, an office building or a busy restaurant. 

With space at a premium, Avek selected two 32in Google-certified, Android-powered and wi-fi connected D-Line displays (32BDL4051D/00), together with a Bosch Flexidome IP Micro 3000i IH intelligent camera and the Philips Professional Display Solutions PeopleCount app. 

Designed for 24/7 use, full remote management control (using Philips PDS’s exclusive CMND platform), and capable of delivering complex content to capture any audience’s attention, the D-Line displays were strategically positioned in portrait mode at the entrance of ‘Apteekkari Sky’ rooftop terrace and inside the rooftop’s indoor bar area. 

Connected to strategically placed Bosch cameras, the number of people entering and exiting the terrace is calculated and displayed in real-time, with a traffic light system displayed to indicate when it’s safe for people to enter as and when capacity is reached and reduced.

This has previously been monitored using staff – but with the concerns around the spread of COVID-19, PeopleCount provides a reliable and cost-effective alternative – freeing up staff to focus on customer service. 

The displays are also used to communicate marketing messages and promotions to customers, whether waiting or not – ensuring investments are maximised and future-proofed. 

The process, from first discussion to installation was completed on time, in under two weeks. The restaurant reopened the following day, with staff and customers responding positively to the ‘new normal’ technology. 

“Before PeopleCount there was no other viable choice, which is a testament to Philips Professional Display Solutions’ foresight and ability to respond to market conditions. After testing PeopleCount, we had no hesitation in recommending it to our client,” says Pöykiö.

Arto Hujanen, the restaurant’s manager, adds, “The safety of our customers and staff is our number one priority and, with PeopleCount, we now have a solution that brings a new level of safety, as well as trust, as we continue to move forward in a post COVID world. 

“We’re delighted with the response from our staff and the reaction from our customers has been extremely positive. The solution has already proved to be a very worthwhile investment, minimalising any potential disruptions to their experience, and allowing people to stay informed while enjoying themselves.”

Mikael da Fonseca, Sales Director at Philips Professional Display Solutions, concludes, “We’re delighted to have been able to support Osuuskauppa PeeÄs in the safe reopening of its Apteekkari restaurant.

“At Philips Professional Display Solutions, we pride ourselves in and feel a great responsibility for bringing new products and solutions to market to meet the needs of our customers. In this extreme instance, we were able to foresee and respond immediately to the conditions caused by COVID-19, and respond to their very sudden changing needs to create a solution that, in January this year, did not appear on any roadmap.”

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