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    Social distancing - data versus information

    Published on 16-Jun-2020 10:59:21

    Guest contributor on #AIFightsBack last week was CEO of Mockingbird Consulting Matthew Macdonald-WallaceMatt shared how the impact of COVID haproduced opportunities that have taken them beyond their current client base of farming and AgriTech to include commercial and industrial sectors. He gave examples of IoT solution applications in customer flows for retail, ordering systems for restaurants and preventive maintenance in farms.

    He also gave a very concise run-down of their monitoring system and how it helps

    business better understand their environment and can enable people to interact more effectively with their surroundings. Their bespoke solutions can actually improve customer interaction whilst maintaining social distancing and with additional monitoring and alerting capabilities everyone is kept safe. All this at an affordable price and with minimum disruption to the business. 

    Applications in retail

    Taking the layout of a retail shop, Matt demonstrated how the integration of sensors offers a low-cost solution with minimum disruption to customer flow. The simple addition of people counters on shop doorways will ensure that businesses do not go over their threshold and it automates the manual task counting the number of customers that go in and out. You could take this one step further and integrate an industrial beacon light that signals green when it is safe to enter without any human intervention required.  

    Adding inexpensive environmental sensors to measure temperature and humidity will help identify patterns of key hotspots for congestion. Then finally on the way out, measure customer and employees satisfaction online by asking them what they think about your social distancing measures. All of this helps minimise your risk and provide safe environments to all.





    Getting started

    Other areas of applications include ordering systems for any 'click and collect' service, systems can alert when customers are parked and ready to collect orders.  Matt's advise on how to get started and mitigate against risks involved the following key points; 

    • Work out what you need to monitor 
    • Collect the data 
    • Turn the data into information 
    • Take action based on the information 
    • Automate as much as possible.  

    His final word was that your solution doesn’t have to be complicated, you can keep it simple, affordable and get really good results.  

    For more information or to get in contact visit


    Dr. Iain Keaney ( looks at the use of IoT and privacy respecting data science to help businesses operate in the post-COVID 19-lockdown world. 18 June at 15.00 (BST). Register here

    Steph Locke (Nightingale HQ) talks about how to kickstart your smart automation journey with her new GoSmarter automation toolbox for SMEs. 25 June at 15.00 (BST) Register here

    Topics: AI use case, IoT, webinars, Social Distancing

    Ruth Kearney

    Written by Ruth Kearney