How Counting People Can Help with Your Program Funding Proposal

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woman writing program funding proposalGetting your programs funded can seem like an uphill battle. Decision-makers have myriad proposals to review, and making your pitch stand out can be quite the challenge. But did you know that you can leverage people counting technology to benefit your program funding proposal? Learn how to make traffic counters work for you.

Highlight Your Past Successes
To grab a decision-maker’s attention, point to prior success when writing your program funding proposal. Review traffic counts from your last program or initiative to demonstrate strong attendance and connect the dots to indicate why similar future programs will draw substantial crowds. Everyone loves a good success story, so paint the reader a compelling picture of how you’ll replicate past successes going forward.

Gain an edge over the competition by doing the little things to stand out. Get your program funding proposal professionally edited (or ask a talented friend for help), write from the heart in concise, hard-hitting sentences to capture the emotion you want to convey, and look up proposals that actually got funded to see concrete examples of what works.

Is Your Growth Game Strong?
Win over your audience by showing them your organization is growing. Traffic counting technology can demonstrate an increase in your foot traffic over time, which can indicate a positive trend in your current programs’ success. Armed with people counting data, you can prove that your organization is moving in the right direction and urge decision-makers to continue the trajectory by greenlighting your program funding proposal.

Did your most recent library children’s reading group attract a record number of parents and kids? Did the special sculpture exhibition at your museum draw an historic crowd? Make your audience understand that you need their assistance to continue the exciting forward momentum.

Dollars and Sense: Set a Realistic Budget

Traffic counting data can give you a look inside the nuts and bolts of your daily operations. Use these numbers to take a hard look at what a practical budget might be for your future programs. What worked for you in the past can set a grounded roadmap for what you’re planning for the next go-around. A budget that’s firmly rooted in reality shows decision-makers that you’ve done your homework and crunched the numbers in your program funding proposal. The more down-to-earth and specific your proposal, the better the chance of funding programs “showing you the money.”

Settle on a Starting Point: Draft Goals You Can Achieve

In your program funding proposal, include traffic counting numbers from past programs or service to understand just how realistic are your goals for the new set of initiative you have in mind. For example, if your last campus guest lecture drew just a handful of attendees, you probably shouldn’t expect a massive turnout for the next special talk. Setting expectations is helpful for the decision-maker reviewing your program funding proposal. When you highlight previous people counts for your events, you show that your proposal isn’t simply a flight of fancy but is buttressed by solid numbers.

Following this advice, you can draft a proposal that convinces funding programs that your projects are worth their investment.

Advantages of Using a Battery Powered Wireless People Counter

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wireless people counterAre you looking for a cost effective way to determine the foot traffic in your place of business? If you aren’t, you should be. If you are, have you considered your wireless people counter options? There are several options available to you in regards to wireless people counters. But, let’s re-examine why you’d want to place people counters in your place of business in the first place.

How would people counting help?

Understanding and gauging the flow of traffic through your establishment can assist you in making better informed business decisions. When you are able to track your peak traffic times and your low traffic times, you will be able to schedule and place your staff more accurately, plan promotions more effectively, and ensure that layout of your store is guiding your customers naturally to the checkout line. So, with that in mind, there are a few advantages to installing wireless people counters in your facility.

1. No need to rewire your existing building

The thought of rewiring your existing building to accommodate people counters is probably overwhelming. If your business is located in an older building, the wiring may be impractical and nearly impossible to work with. Additionally, if you do decide to rewire your building to install people counters, your store would be inaccessible to any customers for the length of time that the electricians would need for installation.

Wireless people counters would eliminate the need for rewiring your building. Battery-operated, wireless people counters allow for flexible mounts in door frames or on walls. Turn it on, place it where you want it to go and your people counting solution is ready to run.

2. Flexible mounting options

No matter what the entrances to your store are like, wireless people counters offer flexible mounting options. Mount them in doorframes or on the wall. Mount them in all of your entrances and in separate sections of your store.

Flexible mounting options allow you to experiment with different store layouts until you figure out which one is the best for you.  In addition to placing them in your entrances, place them throughout your store. Find out which sections are getting the most foot traffic and which are getting the least. You’ll get a better idea of what you need to do to draw traffic through your store, such as placing high demand items towards the back of your store to draw customers all the way through your displays and aisles.

3. Wireless units cost less than wired units

Probably one of the most compelling arguments for wireless people counters is that they don’t cost as much as wired ones. In choosing the more cost effective option, you won’t be losing count quality either. You won’t have the extra costs for wiring and the loss of profit that would follow due to your establishment being closed for the rewiring. You will be able to successfully monitor all entrances and the separate sections of your store for a reasonable price.

Ultimately, if you’re looking for a people counting solution that is cost effective and allows for easy installation, wireless people counters are the optimal solution.

Do Universities Need People Counting Software?

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people counting softwarePublic colleges and universities across the country have been seeing their budgets slashed.  Last year, nearly every state in the US spent about 28 percent less on their institutions of higher learning than they did in 2008. Arizona and New Hampshire cut their funding in half, while 11 states cut it by a third. These cuts have forced public institutions to raise their tuition and make other changes that undermine the quality of their course offerings.

Despite these reductions, public colleges and universities have seen their enrollment rise by 1.3 million students since 2008. Many of these institutions, including the “public ivies,” have reputations and rankings to maintain, so they are trying to find new ways to provide a high level of value and services for their growing enrollment.

Everywhere you look, public entities—libraries, schools, government buildings and more–are talking about cutting back. Cutbacks are inevitable, but it can be done in a way that lessens the impact.

People counting software can help universities to make the most out of their budgets by identifying underused amenities.  Why use people counting software? There are four main reasons: visibility, space, value and budget.

  1. Visibility: Students and faculty may drift in and out of student unions and libraries during the day to eat, meet with friends or study. People counting software allows universities to see how many visit there, regardless of whether they make a purchase or not, so the proper amount of resources can be allocated. An accurate count reduces waste of food, supplies, power and more.
  2. Space: Space accounts for 20 percent of an educational institution’s budget. Efforts to expand or reorganize need to be carefully evaluated, so people counting software can help conduct an audit of a building’s usage. Installing counters above doors and hallways can provide actual traffic numbers that can help determine what space is over-or under-utilized, how students and staff flow through the space, if it needs to be reorganized and where more resources should be spent.
  3. Value:  Tallying traffic counts help university buildings and organizations prove they are providing value to students and show they are a sought-after campus resource. First impressions of a university’s buildings and infrastructure are a major factor in where a student decides to attend school.  People counting software can help track a shift in student foot traffic, indicating an opinion about a change in hours, customer service or resources. In addition, when it comes time to trim the budget, people counts can help pinpoint underutilized buildings or organizations that can be considered for downsizing.
  4. Budget:  People counting software provides the most accurate data to determine the ebb and flow of each building, so managers can keep the property running at optimal efficiency. They can reduce the hours as necessary and extend them during peak times. Having this information on hand allows colleges to only spend what they need to rather than having a flood of staff on the clock at all hours.

People Counting Solutions: Do Colleges’ Shiny New Buildings Hide a Secret?

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87165432If you’ve got kids, chances are, you know college is expensive. Whether your kids are still in diapers or getting ready to graduate high school, you’re probably very familiar with the looming cost of higher education.

As the cost of a four-year degree continues to rise, enrollment is declining. In 2012, the number of students attending college fell by almost half a million people after more than 20 years of rising enrollment. One would think that higher learning institutions would also cut their costs to help attract new students, but it’s exactly the opposite.

Infrastructure is king

Across the country, colleges are building shiny new buildings for students. At the University of California at San Diego, $2 billion worth of new facilities, including a new engineering building, an addition to the school of management and several other new structures, including a parking garage, labs, an apartment and dining complex and a music center were either recently completed or in the process of planning, design or construction.

Across the US, colleges have seen a decrease in their numbers amid rising tuition rates. Shortfalls are being covered with alumni donations and endowments that are also dwindling, as people have to reach deeper into their pockets just to pay their tuition bills.

According to The Hechinger Report, since 2010, universities and colleges have spent more than $11 billion on building new facilities—twice what they spent in 2000, a boom year compared to the economic doldrums of 2010-2012.

But nothing is free

So what happens after these state-of-the-art buildings are completed and there are not enough students to fill them or pay the bills to keep the lights on? In a time when universities are looking to trim their budgets, the square footage is increasing and these new additions need to be heated, cooled, cleaned and maintained.

Some industry experts estimate that construction costs only make up a third of what it costs to maintain a building over its lifetime. When you add in repairs and maintenance, the bills skyrocket.

At the University of California at Riverside, there were two buildings planned for a new medical school. One of the buildings was built and the other had to be delayed because there wasn’t enough money in the budget to run both, causing the opening of the medical school to be pushed back.

Despite anecdotes like this one, the building boom is not going to subside anytime soon because a university relies on state-of-the-art facilities and comfortable buildings to help them attract students. But colleges can be smarter about how they plan and optimize new buildings to make sure they are used to their fullest potential.

Do we need all of these buildings?

Universities that want to control their spending and trim operating budgets can use people counting technology to help them plan and use these new structures so they don’t have a campus full of buildings with each one operating 50 percent capacity.

Schools can also use this technology to help them map trends in other buildings for future planning. If a new residence hall is in the planning stages, traffic counting can help architects and engineers plan the building so it will be utilized to its maximum potential. This is especially important when considering operating budgets because a building with a lot of wasted space still needs to be maintained.

Traffic counting technology should also be employed in gathering places, like university libraries, student unions and dining halls. By tracking peak hours and shifts, universities can ensure they have each location appropriately staffed and that they are not overbuying food products for dining halls or other items needed for their day-to-day operations.

Affiliate Marketing and Digital Signage are Powerful Revenue Drivers

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Multimedia Background. Composed Of Many ImagesAffiliate marketing allows a business to reward one or more affiliated brands or vendors for each visitor or customer drawn in by the affiliate’s own marketing efforts. This type of marketing is often used on digital mediums – websites, blogs and in stores that employ digital signage.

Have a question? The Internet has the answer

Everywhere you look, electronic messages are giving you advice. The Internet has taken over as the primary opinion leader that people turn to when considering a new purchase, deciding whether or not to try a new restaurant or searching for the best deal. We look on Yelp for restaurant reviews, Trip Advisor for hotel and vacation advice and product reviews when we are looking to make a purchase.

Digital endorsements play a large role in where we choose to shop, what to buy and where to eat, so smart business owners should take the time to consider the most effective ways to communicate with their customers.

Technology changes the way we communicate

Shopping habits have certainly changed as consumers are more technology-oriented and sophisticated than ever. Stores that utilize digital signage are a prime opportunity for affiliate marketing. Rather than spending advertising dollars on campaigns that people are likely to avoid or not even see, communicate with shoppers in their preferred medium – electronically.

Affiliate marketing + digital signage = more revenue

Given all that we know, then, affiliate marketing and digital signage seems like the ideal pairing. These media virtually guarantee that customers will see important messages about new products or information about current or future promotions in-store by conveying them at the most important point: while the customer is in the store browsing or waiting on line.

An affiliate marketing campaign may showcase a product or brand on a store’s digital signage to help boost sales for both parties. In fact, some stores can generate enough additional sales to pay for their entire digital signage set up and then some!

Digital signage is one of the most customizable forms of publicity, so these ads can be changed often to complement the business by elevating the status of certain brands, services or suppliers that want to raise brand awareness and generate additional revenue.

How do you track it?

We can tell you how effective digital signage and affiliate marketing is, but you don’t need to just take our word for it. Although our eyeballs don’t talk, our actions provide the data you need to measure the effectiveness of a digital affiliate marketing effort.

Businesses can set up a people counting system around their digital signage to see how many people are reading the sign and viewing the marketing messaging. These sensors recognize when a customer has entered the digital signage zone and provide retailers with valuable information about how many people entered these zones and their traffic patterns within the store.

Combined with sales information, these numbers serve as powerful indicators of marketing success. Counts can be correlated with your retail POS software to see if specific messaging led to an uptick in sales for the product or brand at the center of the campaign.

For example, if the shopper walked over to the product or brand of products being showcased after viewing the signage, you can see the campaign is working. Keeping track of the information obtained from your people counting system and POS software will help you put together a data set that could help improve your affiliate marketing efforts in the future. The data set can provide hard evidence that X amount of people who read the sign were engaged and X percentage of those people who were prompted to action actually followed through. The higher the percentage, the more effective your space and/or message are.

Have you considered affiliate marketing in your digital signage space?

Mission Critical: School Libraries More Valuable Than Communities Perceive

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Full length of a female student sitting against bookshelf and reAcross the US, schools just finished celebrating National Library Week, which took place this year from April 13-19. It’s a critical time for school libraries, as districts are scrutinizing their budgets more closely than ever before, looking for dollars to trim. Libraries may have been celebrated last week, but many library professionals believe the institutions are still underappreciated in society.

A school librarian’s mission

A column written in the Huffington Post last year by Maureen Sullivan, then-president of the American Library Association (ALA), said that school librarians do more than read to children and help them check out books—time spent in school libraries empowers “all our children to access, evaluate and use information for academic and personal learning—this is the critical mission of school libraries and librarians.”

School libraries’ place in the digital landscape

As society continues to embrace digital learning tools, libraries continue to be threatened. Rather than having an “out with the old, in with the new” mindset, library professionals argue that physical and digital learning resources can be used in conjunction to strengthen student understanding.

Sullivan was concerned that school officials may not realize how important a role libraries and librarians play in shaping a student’s ability to succeed in an increasingly digital landscape. Just a few days ago, the 2014 president of the ALA, Barbara Stripling, wrote a follow-up to Sullivan’s column. In it, Stripling writes, “we are facing a serious threat to school libraries.”

These sentiments are worrisome to school libraries, because communities might not know what they are missing. Studies have shown a definite correlation between an adequate library staff and school reading scores. According to the column, the National Center for Education Statistics found that when cuts are made to school library staff, that school reports lower reading scores, where schools who add library staff see their scores go up.

Across the country, cuts are being made to districts in several states, including New York, Illinois, Pennsylvania and Connecticut, among others. In Los Angeles, there is a school district where students cannot check out any books because budget cuts have forced half of the district to eliminate their librarians and aides.

Importance at all learning levels

Libraries on the elementary, middle and high school levels all play a critical role in our children’s development. Sullivan detailed why our elementary school libraries are important and Stripling notes that all school librarians help prepare our children and teach them the skills they need to learn, develop their own talents and ideas and get ready for higher learning. At the college level, librarians are even more critical, because they pick up where school librarians left off and help students on the path to completing their college degrees by assisting with studying and research projects.

Each of these levels struggle to exist without the others. When one part of the library system is threatened, the entire network is weakened. College libraries, in turn, rely on elementary, middle and high school libraries because they form the bedrock of the library system. When school libraries are shuttered or see their resources cut, students who do not have experience in the library face a learning curve that others do not.

Sustainability through financial investment

Stripling asserts that “the library ecosystem must be sustained with the level of financial investment necessary to support the learning needs of everyone in the community.” But how? Librarians know full well that budget money doesn’t grow on trees.

As mentioned, there is a correlation between school libraries and student performance. By proving the value of their resources, libraries can make a case for more staffing, more resources or a budget increase. Libraries can employ data-driven technologies, such as people counting systems, that track the amount of students who use the institution’s resources. These counts can even be used in conjunction with student scores to illustrate the benefits of an adequately-staffed institution.

This data-driven approach could help libraries strengthen a districts’ position that library resources are critical and should not be cut come budget season.

Will Universities and Retailers Start Joining Forces to Stay Afloat?

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College students moving in to the university campusWhen we were in high school, applying to college was a rite of passage. Seniors would apply to two- or four-year schools and then wait for the mail every day, in anticipation of the thick envelopes that signified acceptance. Today, more high school graduates are starting to choose alternate paths. In fact, NBC News recently pointed out that college enrollments are declining.

Tuition costs rising

Tuition costs have risen exponentially since 2000, mainly because nearly every cost associated with going to college has gone up. Colleges—both public and private—find themselves spending more on research (especially at research-focused institutions), student services and instructional staff. Private universities are reporting a dip in gifts and donations, because families have been putting those funds toward paying their tuition bill instead.

Last year, NBC reported that the cost of tuition at a private college increased a mere 3.8 percent, which was considered a bargain compared to larger increases seen in previous years. And for in-state students attending public universities, they had to spend just 2.9 percent more, which was the smallest increase in more than 30 years.

Enrollments decreasing

In 2012, the number of students attending college fell by almost half a million people after more than 20 years of rising enrollment. One would think that higher learning institutions would also cut their costs to help attract new students, but it’s unlikely we will be that lucky.

The bills still need to be paid and private schools often spend more educating each student than their tuition covers, so financial contributions cover the gap. However, with less money coming from alumni donations and endowment funds, colleges need to find another way to make up the difference.

Local retailers suffering

A declining enrollment obviously impacts the university, but it also has implications for the community around the campus as well. Restaurants and stores that receive frequent patronage from the student body also lose business, which could force them to downsize or ultimately close. These businesses are already facing competition from online retailers, who make it easier than ever to purchase school supplies, clothing and even groceries, which is ideal for busy students who only have a few minutes during a study break or between activities.

These losses translate into a less vibrant community, with fewer coffee shops to study in and a smaller selection of shops and restaurants. This is especially detrimental to students who do not have cars on campus and cannot drive to alternate shopping destinations.

A possible solution: university and retail sectors merging

One community college in California, Ohlone College, has decided to launch an initiative to raise additional revenue for the school using its unused property. According to the Contra Costa Times, the school is considering leasing 15 acres of surplus land to a local developer for 90 years.  The developer would build apartments on the land that would provide a new revenue stream for the university.

The idea to build new housing on university land was born out of necessity, and as more institutions find themselves in a similar situation, we may see more of these types of projects in the future. Clearly, it’s a new way to fund the institution and maintain the retail and restaurants that serve the student body. Preserving the community surrounding a university is critical, as vibrant social centers are what help to draw new students and give the university its character, even as the pool of high school graduates shrinks.

Universities and their facility management teams can see how successful their alternative revenue streams—whether it’s new housing or another initiative—are by tracking and counting people they attract over time.  If the new housing is providing fresh revenue for the university, traffic in the neighborhood will increase.

Many colleges already employ people counting sensors and technology in their student unions, libraries and book stores. Similarly, university-owned and privately owned retailers and businesses can use people counting to see the tangible results the new housing is having on their bottom line.

Affordable Care Act Strains Already-Struggling Library Budgets

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Affordable Care Act

According to the American Library Association, there are more than 120,000 libraries in the United States. Libraries date back to 2600 BC, when resources were clay tablets written in cuneiform, one of the earliest known forms of writing – we’ve certainly come a long way since then. Today, libraries serve nearly 1.6 billion visits and lend books approximately 2.4 billion times.

A community resource

Public libraries serve as community centers for classes, book groups and students looking for a place to do research and study. They also fill a critical need in many of the communities they serve. People living at or below poverty level—mainly young adults or senior citizens—go to the library to use the Internet to search for a job, read the news, apply for government benefits or research medical care.

In fact, 62 percent of libraries cited in a recent survey say they are the only source of free Internet in town, drawing a crowd and straining the efficiency of the library’s network.

Doing more with less

The cost of running our library system, according to Forbes Magazine, is less than $50 per person each year. If the cost seems low, that’s because it is. So low, in fact, that there may not be enough money to go around very soon.

A recent column written by Carolyn Anthony, president of the Public Library Association and director of the Skokie Public Library in Illinois, helps to spotlight the financial concerns facing public libraries.

Anthony noted that people depend on their library not only for books and other written or audio/visual materials, but also as a source for information, a place to go for computer classes and get help filing government forms or pay taxes.

Despite the increased role libraries have taken on, they’re being forced to do more with less. Anthony points out that more than 40 percent of states have received less public financial support for their libraries, funding that has slipped by nearly $40 million since 2010.

Effects of the Affordable Care Act

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) is the nation’s health reform law enacted in March 2010 by the Obama administration. It aims to expand health coverage to 25 million Americans, increase benefits and lower costs for consumers, provide funding for public health and prevention, and support health care and public health workforce and infrastructure.

Since the creation of the ACA, libraries are seeing their resources being stretched once again. The website went live in October, so people have been heading to their local libraries in droves to use the computers to learn more about the law and apply for coverage.  Libraries have had to draw from their savings to cover the additional resources needed to meet the new demand.

The problem

In order to keep their doors open in the communities they serve, libraries need to raise additional capital in their budgets and fight the cuts that are being made on the state and federal levels.  This means additional taxes for the local towns that have to vote for the library budget, and no one is in the mood to pay more taxes right now. This is especially true of people who either don’t use the library or have only been there a handful of times.

This is a tough task—so it helps to have some hard evidence to show why you need additional funds.  Using a people counting system, and compiling accurate traffic counts of how many people are coming into the library to research the Affordable Care Act and other important information, can help justify requests for additional resources to serve these patrons.

Fighting back

This empirical evidence will show how many people the library serves and how this number has risen over the few months or years.  Once a library has an idea of how many people it has served over it a set period of time, the facility can take the data and create projections for the future, which will help bolster a case for an increase in local funding to raise additional money for the library. It will also strengthen the request on a state or federal level for additional aid, or at least fight against proposed cuts.