For a patron, the scenario is common, the line is long and time is short and for a shop owner the shift maybe under staffed. However, now that our community has grown with the advent of the Internet, such experiences can be alleviated with preemptive knowledge.
The shop owner would like an efficient flow of patron traffic. Heavy traffic leads to high waiting times and a lowered quality of service. Also, they would like boost traffic during lean times. A service to the customer, the Web Enabled PQS addresses these issues.
Many queuing systems are in use for managing waiting lines on site: the ‘Take-a-Ticket’ dispenser, giant mazes, pagers, smart ticket dispensers, etc. None of them make the line move any faster or reduce the waiting time. Though they help with the quality of the wait and flow.
A web enabled queuing system would allow customers to monitor via the Internet the current waiting time at an establishment. It would allow the customer to better manage their time and presents a business with a more consistent customer flow. Customers spend less time in line and businesses spend less time in crises mode dealing with large rushes of impatient patrons.
SDP04 and SDP05 each had teams designing a PQS. SDP05 implemented a system at the Marcus Cafe in Gunness Building here at UMass. The system was in place for a short time to show its basic function.
Their design is for a strict queue of a single file with a sensor at its beginning. The line was guided by stanchions and ropes. The sensor was mounted on a stanchion at he queues entrance.
The gathered data was transmitted to the website and then manually routed to the web server.
The installation environment
The Marcus Cafe shares space with a lounge area and traffic flow from the door - a double-door that is both entrance and exit for all - to the lounge area crosses the Cafe queue.
Stanchions and ropes to force a queue are not part of the present lobby layout and, therefore any such devices added must be minimal and would provide only a loose guide. It is expected that guides would certainly move around changing the state of the room.
Sensors placed on stands are open to disturbance by fidgety folks and may be misaligned by unknowing employees. Therefore without a strict queue, how are patrons and non-patrons to be distinguished?
More distant sensing must be employed with instruments mounted in more permanent fixtures.
-One (1) complete, functioning, and installed (non-permanent) system at a local establishment
-Sensors and controller
-Web software to serving queue state to the public
-Future Improvement Analysis
The sensors, controller, and input panel must be a affixed semipermanently and adhere to fire and safety codes.
Principle of Operation
The PQS consists of three core elements: the sensors, the controller, and the web interface. The sensors detect the presence of human beings, the controller observes the sensors determining how busy the establishment is then transmits the conclusion via the internet to the web server.
For the strict queue, a single entrance sensor can be used. After an expected service time, the count is reduced. An exit queue could be added to better reflect the throughput. The concerns regarding stands and stand mounted sensors noted above hinder these solutions.
A combination of pairs of sensors placed at the doors and between the lounge and the cafe could also indicate who is who. The sensor pair allows for determining traffic direction.
The controller must distinguish direction, keep a relative count, transmit data to the WIFI module, which broadcasts the data to the web server.
The server side software must integrate into existing web sites easily and pose no security or other such concerns.
The system is to be unobtrusive and inconspicuous to the patron.
The user, an establishment employee, has one variable to set, a threshold reflecting the ratio of customers to employees, which implies the level of congestion. The threshold may be set with a simple increment decrement button pair mounted on a wall plate.
A single digit display will convey the controller output locally.
Momentary contacts from infrared motion detector modules
Single digit panel display of congestion
Web page display of congestion
The system will be installed and fully functional at a local establishment. Its performance will be tracked over time and compared to observed congestion levels.
The controller and WIFI modules have constant costs for any of the designs in consideration. The number of sensors necessary for a given scheme/algorithm greatly influences the product cost. The system may be over built to test the various solutions, though minimizing sensor number is of primary importance.
2006-03-11 2:04 PM