ESA title


  • ACTIVITYDemonstration Project
  • STATUSCompleted

Objectives of the service

Project : Smart Social Distancing 

Due to the COVID-19 crisis and as part of preventive measures, organizations with buildings or campuses in which many people meet have to take special measures in order to re-open or ensure safety. New social distancing regulations force them to manage and document the number of their visitors.

The proposed Smart Social Distancing (SSD) tool is a cost-efficient alternative to other entrance control solutions e.g. employing extra personnel to monitor and count people entering and leaving the facilities. By ensuring that visitors, employers, students etc. comply with the social distancing regulations, the regular works and operations can be kept up and a potential lockdown can be avoided. 

Our data privacy-compliant social distancing tool for organizations allows operators to monitor compliance with social distancing regulations. It captures solely data that is required to reliably monitor visitor numbers only in specified indoor/outdoor areas. The tool can trigger automatic warnings when a pre-defined number of people being present in a specific area is exceeded. It also documents the captured visitor numbers and warnings in a web-based backend so that organizations can prove compliance to regulations.

Users and their needs

Key Users: Visitors of venues (e.g. students and employees in large office buildings) who need to keep social distance.

Key Customers: Larger corporate clients and educational institutions in Germany. 

User Pains: Visitors seem to have difficulties to meet the required social distancing regulations.

Customer Pains: European entities tighten the regulations regarding infection prevention which causes huge compliance challenges for companies and educational institutions. They need a solution with quick deployment that offers a high level of data privacy.

User Gains: Visitors receive a tool that supports them with social distancing while guaranteeing data privacy.

Customer Gains: This tool allows venues such as educational institutions and companies to open up for the regular school/work life again while supporting social distancing compliance. Historical data can be used for documentation purposes to demonstrate compliance with regulations.

The initial target market is the German market with European and international market as potential markets in further steps. The platform has the potential to also be interesting for other venue types with visitors (e.g. shopping centers, museums) and in case of future outbreaks.

Service/ system concept

System Architecture: Three technical concepts were assessed. The green colour shows Technical Concept 1 (Galileo and Bluetooth Location Tracking), the red colour shows Technical Concept 2 (Galileo and Hub Sensor) and the blue colour shows Technical Concept 3 (Smartphone-Based distance estimation). Technical Concept 2 is considered to be the most promising. It was selected for further testing as it offers the bestl trade-off between data privacy/economy and accuracy.

The prototype is adapted to the user needs and the use cases the application covers. Therefore, further features location sharing feature are developed. The tool provides feedback about the number of people that are present in one specific area. Through a geo-fence function, users can also see the occupancy of buildings they are close to. Apart from that, functions in the backend provide the site operators with tools to manage the tracked occuapancy. 

Various tests under lab conditions as well as on-site have been performed. They demonstrated good, but not satisfactory results when using the thermal sensors for occupancy tracking and excellent results in regards to reliability and accuracy for the 3D sensors. Also, visitor feedback regarding the SSD tool with focus on trust and data privacy was very positive. Therefore, the SSD tool with the 3D sensors met all KPIs.

Figure 1: Sensors installed at the entrance


Figure 2: Screen showing the current occupancy status and instructions.


Space Added Value

Satellite Navigation: We integrate Galileo into the positioning algorithms for outdoor positioning. The estimated position is then used to create a geo-fence. This geo-fence is essential for the solution as it allows location sharing on-site. The site operator can gain insights on the overall occupancy through this data. Within the geo-fence, further sensor-tracked data on occupancy is presented to users in relevant situations (e.g. close to the premise). 

Satellite Earth Observation: The map material of the outdoor maps (OSM) is partly derived from satellite pictures. We also work in the alignment of the map material we receive from the operator (e.g. CAD building plans) and we work with current satellite images. Thereby, we position the data to the correct geo-coordinates as shown on the satellite pictures since existing map material often lacks of sufficient accuracy.

Current Status

The project has been successfully completed. In summary, we have assessed three different technical concepts, selected the most suitable one and extensively tested it under lab conditions and on-site. Together with our pilot partner.

In detail, during the project, the following activities have been performed:

  • Won first pilot partners (zoo, university, and software company)
  • Conducted interviews with potential customers to analyse user/ customer needs, constraints, service requirements, success criteria and selling points of SSD tool
  • Assessed three different technical concepts
  • Focused on Technical Concept 2: Conducted research on sensor hardware, tested different hardware under lab conditions
  • Tested two different sensor types in pilot customer venue (Zoologischer Stadtgarten in Karlsruhe) and gained promising testing results with 3D sensors
  • Implemented function for location sharing on site into Galileo-based mobile app and included occupancy data into the app 
  • Received feedback from operators regarding the backend for administration of the SSD tool
  • Prepared SSD tool for scaling up
  • Produced marketing material and started sales activities

Prime Contractor(s)

Status Date

Updated: 13 October 2021