3 Reasons Why People Counting is Essential for Student Unions

People counting is not only ideal for institutions that generate revenue, but also for those who don’t. Non-profit organizations and state-funded programs need accurate data about the number of visitors they garner in order to request resources.

Student unions are generally the hub of activity for a college campus. Throughout the day, crowds of students and faculty members come between classes. With a flow of visitors that is constantly fluctuating, it isn’t easy to keep track of how many there are. Without knowing how many visitors there are, it is impossible to know how many resources are needed to accommodate them. Keeping track of trafficking ensures that the facility is operating at optimal efficiency.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, college enrollment increased 37 percent in the United States. Much of this increase was in full-time enrollment, with the number of full-time students rising 45 percent. Increases in enrollment inevitably lead to increased trafficking in campus buildings.

Being in-tune with the building’s trafficking is helpful for these reasons:

1. Measure which areas are used most.

  • Knowing the most-traveled doors and hallways in the building may come in handy when placing informational fliers, kiosks or help desks for new students.
  • Also, knowing which areas of the student union receive the most trafficking tells the school where to concentrate its money. It may be the fitness center; it may be the cafeteria. Whichever the area, if it is heavily-traveled then it is likely to return the money that was spent in it.
  • For example: If free concerts were held at a student union, it would be helpful for the programming board to know which acts the students liked or didn’t like. That way, they won’t waste their time booking entertainers that don’t entertain their students. And if they wanted to bring in more expensive entertainers, they would have a better idea of which acts would bring the most money.

2. Optimize employee placement for peak and non-peak times.

  • Managers can calculate building hours and personnel needs based on actual data reports from the people counting hardware, rather than making estimations. With a sensor installed, the building may never be over- or understaffed again.
  • Because of school budgets, it is important for student unions to use their money wisely. Many student centers can’t afford to pay several employees on the same shift, and even if they can, they shouldn’t have to. People counting allows student unions to optimize their labor.
  • People counting can be used to estimate the proper amount of employees for peak and non-peak times on an average day – and on the not-so-average days, too. When hosting well-attended events – sometimes several at once – the building may need more staffing. People counting helps you predict and prepare for special occasions.

3. Justify requests for additional resources.

  • Non-profit organizations can estimate their staffing and funding needs based on the data, and then use the data to justify their requests for staffing or state funding. Providing data that proves an increase in traffic in a student union justifies the need for more funding for computers, printers, weight machines, chairs, plates or anything else the building offers. It can also justify the need for additional employees to serve more food, give more tours, etc.
  • With an increased amount of students using a fixed amount of resources, a school’s budget is bound to tighten. However, if people counting hardware is installed in the student union, the sensors will pick up on the increase in trafficking. This data ensures that student union resources don’t get the axe when it comes time to make budget cuts.

Student centers and unions at Boise State University, Eastern Michigan University, Florida State University, Louisiana State University, Ohio State University, University of Arizona, University of Utah and University of Wisconsin currently use people counting hardware in their buildings. And your school could be next.

While reading and analyzing data reports sounds like a lot of work, it isn’t. You do not have to manually generate the reports; you can have them sent to you every week or month. The initial amount of money and time spent buying and using the hardware is well worth the eventual benefits.