Companies these days need to protect not only their digital presence but also their premises.
Because of the increasing cyberattacks and data breaches, businesses have been focusing on upgrading their cyber security with new technologies, such as VPNs and anti-malware solutions. But as the world opens up again, it is evident that public spaces require a security update too.
Due to the rapidly growing population, it has become harder to track masses of people when it comes to, for example, big sports events, malls, airports, or other mass gatherings. This is where AI and real-time crowd intelligence comes in.
To find out more about crowd control technology, our team invited Zack Klima, Founder & CEO of WaitTime – software that provides critical crowd analytics on foot traffic, including occupancy, queue management, and more.
Let’s go back to the very beginning of WaitTime. What has the journey been like?
The journey has been absolutely unpredictable yet very exciting. I am one of the most optimistic and energetic people around, so my relentlessness has allowed the journey to continue through hard times when it seemed like we had no hope. It has been around 8 years now, and we are finally breaking through to the masses. Naively, I thought that WaitTime was going to be a massive success in a short period of time due to the fact of how progressive our team is. We have developed a net-new AI solution for a real problem that has existed for thousands of years, waiting in line. I am so lucky to be surrounded by world-class mentors, teachers, and business partners who educate me with their wisdom of “been there, done that” to continue through the dense, uncertain & unpredictable forest of the business world.
Can you introduce us to your crowd intelligence solutions? What features make WaitTime stand out?
Determining staffing and guest service needs has long been one of the biggest challenges in the hospitality sector. WaitTime provides critical crowd analytics on foot traffic, including occupancy, queue management, and more, to help solve this challenge and allow companies to better allocate staffing for improved services and security, as well as communicate with visitors to improve guest experience through crowd intelligent way-finding on digital displays and mobile applications. With WaitTime, clients are able to accurately understand how many people are within a space through algorithms leveraging the RTSP stream from cameras mounted above where crowds form. These analytics are then fed to the WaitTime Operations Dashboard, where operators can quickly see at a glance how many people are in a space or where queues are forming. This data can also be shared in real-time with venue guests on digital way-finding displays or via mobile devices so they can make smart choices about navigating the space. Optimized to run on Intel hardware and by using Intel® OneAPI, WaitTime was able to develop the solution efficiently while optimizing their heterogeneous workloads to achieve the highest possible performance, all allowing them to quickly and easily help cut wait times and improve the guest experience.
Since security cameras and other physical security solutions are becoming more commonplace, have you noticed any new techniques that threat actors have started using in order to take advantage of these technologies?
We have developed our AI to work with any camera in the world, so the trick for us that makes us stand out is that we can work with pre-existing infrastructure. WaitTime does a world-class job of camouflaging ourselves into what is already out in the world.
How did the recent global events affect your industry? Did you add any new features as a result?
COVID-19 was a tough time for everyone. COVID taught us to tell our story much differently. We once emphasized quite a bit the guest experience side of our business, which of course, is still very important, but we flipped the story to tell the operational side of the business first. COVID helped the world take WaitTime seriously as more of a “need to have” rather than a “nice to have”.
As more surveillance measures are being implemented, concerns around privacy protection have started to arise. What do you think these worries are based on?
Privacy is always a massive concern, as it should be. GDPR is front and center. WaitTime values the privacy of all citizens in the world, which is why our patented AI is completely anonymous. WaitTime retains no personal information, facial recognition, or anything of that matter. It is completely anonymous, and we took that stance from day one, 8 years ago.
What predictions do you have for the future of technology in the public safety field?
Cameras are merely eyes, it is about what you do with the video footage to increase safety and business intelligence, or both simultaneously. Computer vision and AI will drive the future of public safety. Optics are the only way you can actually see & understand what is going on. Beacons, BLE, and other solutions are not only inaccurate but invade your privacy.
Where do you hope to see AI used more widely in the upcoming years?
AI makes your life easier. The trick is to properly educate the masses that AI is your friend when applied the right way. AI for crowd management, manufacturing, and retail, are just a couple of the industries that we see it becoming more widely accepted.
In this age of ever-evolving technology, what do you think are the key security measures everyone should implement on their devices?
Privacy is key. AI makes your life easier but needs to keep everyone's privacy top of mind and not invade.
Would you like to share what’s next for WaitTime?
We are quickly moving into a number of different industries with our solution that started in the sports industry. We started off in sports because the movement of people in that industry is the most volatile. We trained our algorithms for the “worst case scenario” which we are now parlaying into other industries like Airports, Shopping Malls & Retail, Convention Centers, Smart Cities, and Temporary events. The best thing we did was to adapt our solution to the growing needs of crowd management. You will see WaitTime in a number of industries here shortly.