Riedel uses DisTag for social distancing ’“ Q&A

Many AV providers are expanding or adapting product offerings to help organisations navigating the coronavirus pandemic and new requirements to make premises ‘covid-safe’.

Tim Kridel catches up with Matthias Leister, head of project management at Riedel to understand more about DisTag, a distance monitor to help people adhere to social distancing guidelines, as well as look at other areas where AV professionals are well placed to support clients during lockdowns, as well as in a post-pandemic world. 

TK: It’s been about a month since your employees began wearing DisTag in the office. What are some lessons learned so far? For example, how does it compare to other technologies and techniques (e.g., stickers on the floor, bollards, digital signage) to implement and enforce social distancing in the workplace? What kind of feedback have you received from employees? Any surprises? Could it be extended to non-employees, such as visitors?
ML: Rules, signs and stickers are part of our everyday lives since the outbreak of COVID-19. Still, old habits – especially when it comes to keeping distance – are hard to break. DisTag gives immediate feedback to its users to correct their distance intuitively without discussion. In addition, nobody has to become “the inspector,” always reminding somebody else about distancing. During the first days of the deployment, we learnt a lot with respect to locations where we are obviously not used to keeping distance. This was especially true for kitchen areas. DisTag helped to discipline ourselves in this regard.

Within our managed technology division, the use of DisTag devices has very quickly been extended to external staff and visitors.
TK: Video surveillance is one of your specialties. Are there any ways that enterprises and other organizations can leverage their existing surveillance systems to implement and enforce social distancing? Maybe one parallel is how some retailers deployed video surveillance for security but then expanded it to additional applications, such as understanding how people shop.

ML: DisTag is enabling users to quickly adapt their distancing behavior. The different levels of warning start very discretely before getting too alarming. There are a lot of applications in surveillance systems offering  fencing applications. In both cases, you need to consider how you remind people to keep their distance. The standard answer would be a public announcement. This is far away from being discrete and I cannot see a shop owner making constant announcements every time the minimum distance is not being respected. 

In a different scenario, CCTV systems can still help to fight the spread of the virus: As surveillance systems are able to identify objects as well as recognise faces, you could use them to identify people refusing to wear masks. Staff could be informed discretely via wireless communications solutions to remind the person to wear a mask.
TK: Most municipalities have social distancing laws and guidelines due to Covid-19. Are there any other business-related or non-governmental factors that affect your interest in AV solutions that help with social distancing? One possible example is the flu and the common cold: After a Covid-19 vaccine is widely available, and social-distancing laws have been lifted, maybe you could continue to use these AV technologies to distance employees and patrons so they’re less likely to get sick. In the case of employees, I would think that part of the business case for these technologies is less sick time.
ML: Social distancing is key. The learning curve we already went through with Covid-19 is that customers appreciate solutions where support can still be offered without additional staff on-site. I’m sure that this experience will remain after Covid-19. Riedel is already providing AV services that include remote support through our Remote Operations Centre (ROC) in Wuppertal. This approach greatly reduces the need to have employees at the event locations, saving travel related costs and is enabling the customers to book different levels of service. Where a person on-site was bound to the ongoing project, remote support can be offered exclusively or shared based on service level agreements.

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