CROWD COUNTERS OR "TALLY COUNTERS" ARE SIMPLE, EASY TO USE DEVICES FOR COUNTING PEOPLE. THEY ARE AVAILABLE IN MECHANICAL, ELECTRONIC, OR APP-INTEGRATED VERSIONS
If you're visiting this page, you might be asking questions like "what is a handheld people counter, crowd counter, or tally counter?" Alternatively, you could be interested to know what types of people counters exist, or wondering "which type of people counter should I use?" Perhaps you're a venue owner, manager or security person with questions and concerns about the counting technology that you're currently using, or are interested to know how to upgrade your counting technology. We've created this article to address these questions, and to provide some information about the different types of handheld people counters and "tally counters" that are available on the market today, their benefits and their tradeoffs.
A "handheld people counter" is a digital or mechanical "tally counter" that enables the user to count people entering, exiting or present at a particular space or venue. There are a number of different types of handheld people counters, mechanical, electronic/digital, wifi-enabled, or app-integrated crowd counters. Although the primary purpose of a handheld people counter is to count people, each type of people counter differs in how those counts are achieved and comes with trade-offs for the user in terms of speed, functionality, and price.
These simple, mechanical designs are sure to satisfy the purists as well as the cost-conscious consumers.
Among the most time-tested of designs, the mechanical "tally counter," is a simple device, usually encased in metal and cylindrical in shape. Part of the cylindrical body of the device is flattened to contain a window of plastic or glass behind which the number display mechanism is contained. The number mechanism usually consists of four numbered rings each containing the numbers 0 to 9 allowing a "tally count" from 0 to 9999. Often times the counter body will include a metal ring or half-ring to aid in holding the counter in one hand. Usually the ring is curved or bent to allow it to be held comfortably in the user's hand.
These counters are simple to use, consisting of a button to advance the count (usually located near the tally count numbers window), and a dial (usually located on the side of cylinder) to advance all 4 of the numbers at the same time and reset the counter to 0. When the "advance button" is clicked, the first numbered ring in the counting mechanism is advanced one number. When the count has reached 0009, the next click of the advance button will move the second numbered ring by one number such that the number display reads "0010."
With a starting price of less than $20.00 each, mechanical counters are really cheap, and if you're a purist that prefers the mechanical action of these types of counters, then they provide an inexpensive option that can satisfy most counting requirements. However, their inability to integrate with other technologies comes at the cost of overall accuracy and efficiency, often requiring more man-hours to operate than wifi-enabled or app-integrated alternatives.
These simple, electronic or digital designs are durable with more features than mechanical versions.
Also a time-tested type of crowd counter, electronic or digital "tally counters" are also available in several different configurations. Like their mechanical counterparts, electronic handheld crowd counters are designed to be held and operated using one hand. Often these counters will include a "loop" where a necklace or wrist strap can be attached to easily store the counter when not in use.
Most electronic crowd counters utilize an LCD screen to display the count, this display typically contains 4 rows of numbers that can display a count from 0000 to 9999. Next to, or above or below the screen, there is typically a soft rubber button to advance the count. In case a mistake is made while counting, some models also include a button to decrement the count. In addition, many electronic counters also have a "reset" button or feature that allows the counter to be reset to zero. In some models, pressing the increment or decrement buttons also produce an audible "chirp," in order to provide the user with additional confirmation that the count has been incremented without the need to look directly at the display.
With a starting price of less than $10.00 each, the ability to increment and decrement the count, and their long battery life, electronic tally counters are a viable option for most counting requirements. However, like mechanical counters, their inability to integrate with other technologies comes at the cost of overall accuracy and efficiency, often requiring more man-hours to operate than wifi-enabled or app-integrated alternatives.
These simple, electronic or digital designs are durable with more features than mechanical versions.
Wifi enabled handheld crowd counters combine the simplicity of the tally counter with modern features specifically designed for counting people and syncing with high-tech analytics. These devices consist of an LCD screen (usually color) that can be configured from cloud-based web application to display custom venue information, including being able to display count information on multiple rooms or sections within the same venue.
In addition to the display, wifi enabled crowd counters also utilize click-response buttons that make it easy for bouncers, hostess or ticketers to keep on top of busy lines. Some of these counters allow staff to not only increment and decrement the count, but keep track of male and female guests using 2 sets of increment and decrement buttons. Separate buttons for in and out, and male and female guests offers a more comprehensive counting solution for complex venues.
One of the most efficacious features of wifi enabled crowd counters is the ability to update the count across zones and counters. This is particularly important for venues with multiple entrances and exits, updating the counters in real-time allows door persons to remain at choke-points rather than having to leave periodically to count the entire venue.
With a starting price of about $250.00 per device plus $50/month for service, wifi enabled counters are not on the cheaper end of the counter solution spectrum. These devices also require some setup using a cloud-based app which might be too much for some users. When deployed however, wifi enabled counters offer massive benefits for users by enabling real-time count updates across devices, and allowing for multiple zones with unique male/female counts. Despite their novelty, the high device replacement costs, need to recharge, and overly specific functionality might be more trouble than benefit for all but advanced users.
These people counters are integrated into mobile applications in order to enhance their functionality.
Unlike stand-alone people counters, app integrated crowd counters combine needed functionality of a specific app with people counting ability. Combining multiple functions into a single device makes the job of bouncers, hosts and door people easier as they don't have to switch between apps or devices to accomplish common functions. Additionally, information recorded to the app by one user can be transmitted to other users instantaneously, a major advantage over analog or mechanical people counting devices. App integrated crowd counters can handle multiple zones, and can be modified in far greater ways than hardware-dependent people counting solutions like wifi enabled crowd counters.
WAITN, the example app above, combines a waitlist application with a people counter, two things thats are used simultaneously at busy venues. The combination of a real-time counting solution and a waitlist means that bouncers and host staff can "page" customers on the waitlist as soon as they receive real-time updates about the count. Putting the waitlist input form and the count in the same place means that users don't need to click, swipe or browse to add a another person to the waitlist or update the count, saving valuable time at critical moments.
WAITN also enables users to integrate their zones with sensor or camera based people counting solutions. Unlike manual counting, where a human one-by-one counts the people in a space, sensor or camera based counting solutions use Artificial Intelligence (AI) to constantly update the count in real-time. With a sensor-based system in place, a venue can maintain accurate real-time counts without the need for a critical employee to take the time to manually count individuals. This significantly improves labor cost while optimizing host staff for customer service.
With startup and monthly costs similar to or less than wifi enabled counters, app-integrated crowd counters offer far more functionality, including "future proofing" with the ability to customize and modify the application for a venue's needs. If you're operating a complex venue that often has a long wait, especially a long line, using an app-integrated people counter with waitlist functionality can combine two vital functions, effectively saving your staff time while making customer service more efficient. Moreover, the ability to update the count via a web API, thus enabling the app to update its zone count from external sources like people counting cameras or sensors make crowd-management even more efficient. When employees no longer need to perform manual counts of a venue, they are free to return to customer service, ensuring that waits are as short and efficient as possible.
Although there is no substitute for well-trained efficient staff, putting WAITN in the hands of bouncers, security, and hosts, gives personnel a tool that simplifies the process of crowd management by keeping your walk-in customers organized and happy. That's why, in addition to a waitlist solution, WAITN also offers an easy to use people counter tool that security staff love to use. With WAITN, hosts, bouncers, or other crowd control staff can monitor or update the occupancy of your venue right from their mobile device.