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Anyone who has ever participated in or watched a bike race like the Tour de France, Giro, or Tour of Flanders, will know this to be true: falling is part of bicycle racing.
Not that I pretend to be good enough to participate in the pro races, but with my nearly 50 years of age, I am still trying to do my best and participate in the 40+ age races. In these races, we go almost as fast as the Quicksteps of this world—although the distance may be closer to 70 km instead of 250 km. However, we still fall just as hard as the professionals.
Three weeks ago, it was my turn (after four years of luck) to hit the ground again. I came up with a broken clavicle, two broken ribs as well as some bruised ones, and a set of abrasions on the right side of my body. The recovery process is still ongoing, but I consider myself to be doing better than my bike, which also took a beating in the crash.
After two weeks of sleepless nights, I went to the local bike shop to see what could be saved of my carbon S-Works. The owner told me that they were doing extremely well in sales during these COVID days. It seemed that a lot of people had found their way back to the bike. Visitors filled the store looking for an escape or some good exercise. With the number of people in the shop going up and the same number of attendants in the store, visitors would often not be attended to and would leave the shop without the help they needed. Additionally, although sales were up, something else also went up: theft.
With an increased number of visitors to the store, the staff was unaware of when some equipment went missing. The owner did have CCTV cameras inside the shop that were recording during the incident. Unfortunately, during these busy days, the small business owner had to spend more than 8 hours of already scarce family time in the evenings, going through footage to find the local thief.
Working in the security industry, we rapidly went from talking about my bike to "my" work: with our video management system Ava Aware the owner could search a specific area in the store. The system's AI capabilities could instantly provide thumbnails of video footage to choose from and analyze what happened in a couple of seconds. Aware also made it possible to highlight, in real time, specific people, and follow their path through the rest of the shop.
Similarly, Aware could help direct employees to the right visitors at the right time by easily notifying a salesperson with an alert to his or her mobile when a visitor was checking out a bike and needed assistance. It was also possible to notify a technical attendant to move to the register when more than a certain number of people were waiting in line.
My conversation with the owner continued with, "Do you have any idea how many visitors you have daily? Or would it help to have that information on an hourly basis to schedule the right support in the shop during peak times? And would it help to have a heatmap to visualize high movement areas where your customers are congregating the most in your shop?" The more I learned about the Specialized concept store owner, the more problems I realized we were able to address and the conversation shifted from my broken bike to his security solution. Anything to get that time back with his staff and family. Ava would soon be making his existing security cameras intelligent!
Now, the owner is able to investigate quickly, share footage with the authorities, and get to know the most popular areas of his store with heatmaps. He and his team will learn when and where people are located in his shop, receive notifications when anomalies are happening, like movement outside of business hours, and many more features to keep him, his employees, and merchandise safe.
So, the glass is always half full. While it is never a good thing to crash or have property stolen, sometimes you might land in a better, safer place.