The Role of Integrated Technology in Easing Crowds and Maximising the Retail Experience
Blackburn, United Kingdom, England -
Vineet Kashyap, Managing Director, Chubb Asia Pacific
The world is witnessing a mega trend that will define how humanity lives for many decades to come and it is called “urbanisation.” According to the United Nations, 54 percent of the world’s population live in urban areas today – a proportion expected to increase to 66 percent (from 3.9 billion to 6.4 billion) by 2050. To put this in context, the world will add the equivalent of New York, Shanghai and Tokyo every year. This increase in urban populations places greater expectations on the companies that provide solutions within commercial buildings. Users and owners are no longer satisfied with just the real estate space, they expect the building be dynamic and keep them safe, while at the same time having a minimal impact on the environment. This change will require smart buildings that satisfy a multitude of different user requirements with the use of technologies. These intelligent, integrated buildings are no longer a lofty concept – they are real.
Conversations about the impact of urbanisation often spark questions about housing and spatial planning. However, urban population growth can place equally significant pressures on the retail and leisure sector. Brick and mortar retailers must adapt to large crowds without compromising the shopping experience to effectively compete with the convenience and immediacy of the online experience. High Streets across the world are feeling the strain as they continuously bid to attract consumers.
Part of the attraction process is to make the shopping experience as enjoyable as possible, ensuring safe and easy passage around commercial centres. This can be achieved with the right mix of integrated and intelligent technologies.
One such example is iSQUARE, an iconic shopping mall located in the heart of Hong Kong’s most popular tourist district, Tsim Sham Tsui. Hong Kong has a population of over 7 million and attracts almost 60 million tourists each year. iSQUARE houses some of the world’s best known retail brands and restaurants and as a result has an extremely high amount of consumer traffic every day. To maintain a high level of customer satisfaction for visitors, iSQUARE must effectively facilitate the steady flow of consumers through the busiest areas at peak hours, providing them the fastest and most direct routes to their next destinations. Customers should think of iSQUARE as a prime retail location and not as a site for gridlocked walkways, queues and long waits for elevators.
Chubb, a part of UTC Climate, Controls & Security, organised a dedicated technical solutions team to create sustainable and integrated systems for iSQUARE that enable customers to avoid long queues and waiting times for elevators. To address the congestion problem in the highly populated zones, Chubb deployed its closed circuit television (CCTV) and video analytics systems to automatically count the volume of passengers approaching elevators in the lobby and restaurant floors during peak periods of the day. These systems provide immediate data to increase transparency of building operations that can be responded to automatically, for example, dispatching elevators to the high traffic floors.
The bespoke smart elevator dispatching system in turn uses this data to send the appropriate number of lifts to any given floor, ensuring that customers do not face long waits to their next iSQUARE destination. For example, when there is a wedding banquet held at a Chinese restaurant on the dining floors of iSQUARE, there may be crowds of more than 100 people needing to use lifts to exit the building. Real-time analysis reduces wait times by 24%, enabling people to enter, leave or move around the building quickly and efficiently.
Chubb was able to retrofit this technology through a seamless interface with Otis, which installed the elevator systems to work in tandem with the CCTV systems and video analytics capabilities. The installation and use of dedicated, smart technology solutions is a critical part of ensuring the efficient flow of customers throughout the shopping mall during peak times.
The success of iSQUARE is a great example of the fundamental role of integrated security solutions in facilitating business strategy. The growth of urban population coupled with the rapidly changing global retail landscape underscores the importance of building technologies. Reliable solutions – from integrated video analytics that automatically detect activity and trigger an immediate response, to facial recognition deployed through installed integrated security systems – allow retailers to focus on customers, while reducing concern on security. At UTC Climate, Controls & Security, we strive to invent new and better ways to keep people and their businesses safe through the use of smart, sustainable and reliable solutions. Working with major retailers and complexes such as iSQUARE drives Chubb to continuously invest in innovation and help support the long-term development of smart commercial buildings, and the sustainable urbanisation of the world.