4 months ago · 5 min read

People Counting

Why People Counting Matters

Depending on the industry people counting has many names: visitor counting, passenger counting, pedestrian counting or customer counting. People counting is important in several industries for a number of reasons. Not all reasons apply to all industries, but often there are multiple reasons within the same industry which make people counting necessary. All reasons listed below are directly linked to decision making. With important decisions it's always better to base them on a foundation of accurate data instead of gut feeling or pure assumptions. People counting is one source of data required to make better decisions.

  • Providing Safety and Security
    Large crowds require sufficient guidance and security personal to avoid mass-panic and injuries. People counting helps adjusting security and safety measures in realtime and learning from past experiences.
  • Intrusion Detection
    Counting a single person without permission entering a room, site or building can trigger an alarm.
  • Improve Services
    Measuring the the utilization of services, revenue alone is often not a sufficient metric. Whenever people can access a service without causing cash flow, people counting becomes relevant to fully capture the use of services.
  • Increase Revenue
    Performance measurements often compare what is possible and what is the actual outcome. For example two important KPIs in retail are the number of people passing the store without entering or entering without buying.
  • Reduce Cost of Operations
    Expenses for operational services such as cleaning measures can be reduced if the number of people utilizing the service is known in realtime.
  • Performance & KPI Measurement
    To assess the success of marketing campaigns such as redesigning a website, starting a media campaign or placing new products requires knowledge of costs, the additional visitors and the additional revenue generated through the campaign.

Use-Cases & Industries

Public Transportation

People counting in public transportation serves as basis for optimized schedules, estimating revenue, planning maintenance and staff deployment. Better decisions benefit both operators and passengers of public transportation.

Traffic and City Planning

To manage the increasing demand for mobility in modern cities, city planning departments need accurate measurements of traffic, including pedestrian traffic. Optimizing usage of current capacities and designing and evaluating infrastructure changes helps cities cope with urbanization.


From parking to boarding, from check-in to shopping, from restaurants to restrooms. Creating pleasant customer journeys, schedule cleaning services and evaluating business decisions. Passenger counting has many applications within airports.

Arenas & Events

Creating pleasant memories that last. Arenas, stadiums and large events use passenger counting to evaluate and improve security concepts in real-time. Understanding the passenger journey from the parking spot or train station to the event site, passenger counting aids in making customer touch points more effective.

Fairs and Museums

Analyzing visitor pathways and obtaining insights about visit frequency. People counting improves visitor experience and provides powerful arguments in communications with exhibitors.


People counting provides answers on which areas of the store are visited most frequently, how long waiting queues are and how conversion rates evolve over time and across multiple stores.

COVID-19 Response

All of the aforementioned industries are affected by recent developments regarding Covid-19. While close proximity to other people often feels uncomfortable, Covid has increased this tendency. People counting solutions can effectively limit the number of people within certain areas, buildings or sites. Adjusting services helps to always provide sufficient space for people keeping sufficient distance.

Solutions for People Counting

There exist multiple solutions to people counting. Implementing people counting it is crucial to know the differences of various solutions and to carefully trade their strengths and weaknesses.

Manual Counting

People doing people counting is the obvious solution to the problem. If people counting is rarely required it can be reasonable to rely on manual counting. However, especially in industrialized countries high wages let this approach become inefficient and costly relatively fast. Approaches such as using smartphone apps instead of the tally counters shown below enable at least digital data acquisition and storage.

Light Barriers Inside Doors

A relatively simple way to measure the number of people entering a room is to install a light barrier in each door. Depending on the deviation from the undisturbed state, the system recognizes whether a person has entered or left.

In such systems, the weakness is that simultaneous entry and exit of multiple people is often incorrectly recognized. Likewise, bicycles or strollers are a problem.

Beam sensors are often used for intrusion detection systems as they do not depend on lightning conditions.

Measuring Mobile Signals

Most people carry mobile devices such as smartphones which are emitting signals such as WiFi, Bluetooth or LTE. Measuring these signals one can infer the number of people.

However, many people carry multiple devices or no devices at all, which reduces the accuracy.

Measuring Wi-Fi Access

Providing free wi-fi providers can measure the number of users and their proximity to the access points. However, walls or large distance to the access point can reduce the accuracy of the counting results. Albeit using free wifi reduces mobile data consumption not all visitors log into free wifi networks.


Dedicated 3D sensors or stereo cameras obtain additional height of objects. While this additional information is supposed to increase robustness and accuracy it comes with a significant higher cost than other sensors.

Smart Cameras

Cameras are already installed in many locations for security or safety reasons. Isarsoft provides video analytics software to turn existing cameras into smart people counting sensors. Additionally Isarsoft cooperates with camera manufacturers to provide highly accurate people-counting directly on the camera. Not needing two kinds of sensors, one for people counting, one for security and safety, the cost of people counting can be reduced by a factor of ten compared to dedicated 3D-Sensors.

If you want to learn more about how to use cameras for people counting you might find our article "why isarsoft" interesting. In case some questions remained unanswered do not hesitate to contact our sales team at moc.tfosrasi@selas.

MariaContent Manager

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