SSD - Smart Social Distancing

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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 detects when a pre-defined number of people being present in a specific area is exceeded. This can be shown on a terminal with other helpful instructions. A web-based backend allows operators to manage the SSD tool and offers analytics so 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 venues with areas that need to be tracked (e.g. 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 (Geofence with 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 Collection). Technical Concept 2 is considered to be the most promising so it was selected for further testing as it offers the best trade-off between data privacy/economy and accuracy.

The protoype is adapted to the user needs and the use cases the application covers. Therefore, further location sharing features are developed. The tool provides feedback about the number of people that are present in one specific area and if a defined threshold is exceeded or not. Apart from that, the web-based backend is adjusted and enriched with the required feature so the monitoring of the social distancing can be managed.

Pilot test with data-privacy compliant people counter: Installed hardware above entrance for testing under real-life conditions in pilot venue

Installation of terminal display with SSD tool showing whether entering the indoor area is allowed or not; sensor data is processed and presented in an appropriate way to visitors

Space Added Value

Satellite Navigation: The Galileo signal is used to create a geo-fence. This geo-fence is essential for the solution as it allows triggering data collection only in case of specific situations. Once a person crosses the geo-fence which defines an enter of the premises, the solution starts tracking the distance of this user to other users on-premise. 

In technical concept 1), we integrate Galileo into the positioning algorithms for GPS/Galileo outdoor positioning. In sum, Galileo is used for data privacy and for the reliability of social distancing measurements.

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 FAT/SAT took place online in May 2021. During the project, the following activities have already 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): gained good results with thermal sensors and very good results with 3D sensors

Prime Contractor(s)

Status Date

Updated: 27 January 2021 - Created: 27 January 2021