Cedarville University has seven locations where students can go to get their food, including a Chick-fil-A restaurant, a more traditional college cafeteria, and several “Grab & Go” takeout stations where students can grab a quick lunch on their way to class.
With a large freshman class and less seating available due to physical distancing requirements for Covid-19, the university was concerned that students needed a way to see which locations were busy in real time and be able to make decisions based on that information. The main goal was to minimize crowding, but also to help students find the shortest line.
“We talked through a lot of possibilities for tracking occupancy and line length,” explained Nathanael Biggs, Network Analyst & Adjunct Professor. “Everything from manual observation and reporting by food service workers to high-dollar AI-based video analytics platforms.
BlueZoo hit the sweet spot for accuracy, flexibility, and practicality. We were pressed for time, so a solution that was easy to install without running new network cables to ideal camera locations was a great fit. Another key point was the availability of the BlueZoo API for integrating into our own applications.”
Cedarville deployed seven BlueZoo sensors, one each in seven dining facilities. “Installation was incredibly easy, especially when compared to what it would take to set up a camera. BlueZoo’s PoE option was ideal because we didn’t have to run any new power lines. Once plugged in, I was able to tune our sensors in just a few hours using the BlueZoo mobile app,” concluded Professor Biggs. “There was no noticeable impact on our networks.”
During the first few weeks of the Fall semester beginning September 2020, students were having to adjust to the “new normal” of life on campus. At this time Cedarville’s CrowdChecker web app, which presented the data from BlueZoo, was the most popular page on Cedarville’s website. As students, faculty, and staff developed routines, traffic has decreased, but the site still sees a substantial number of hits as people check in to see where they can go in order to avoid lines.
“BlueZoo provides a simple, powerful way to track how many people are in an area. The unobtrusive sensors and flexible API’s made it possible for us to deliver real-time value to students and minimize crowds at our dining facilities.”
“Our development team did the deployment over the course of a week. Most of that was tweaking the front-end, implementing a process to set overrides and change thresholds. Professor Biggs needed only half an hour to write a python script to call the BlueZoo API for testing.”