A new app will help malls around New Zealand track how close indoor crowds are coming to Covid-19 capacity.

Malls and stores are preparing to keep customers socially distanced tomorrow, with an influx of shoppers expected to descend on retail stores after weeks of staying at home.

The app, designed by NZ company Bellwether, tracks how many people enter into malls and provides updates every 90 seconds showing the number of square metres per person.

Chief executive Phil Elliott said their client, Kiwi Property, has chosen a capacity limit above the minimum Government regulations to keep people safe under alert level 2.


Kiwi Property owns six malls around the country - Sylvia Park and LynnMall in Auckland, The Base and Centre Place in Hamilton, The Plaza in Palmerston North and Northlands in Christchurch.

It is preparing to reopen the malls on reduced trading hours tomorrow.

"The Bellwether People Counting System will allow centres to keep close tabs on capacity and to ensure shoppers are able to abide by physical distancing guidelines," a spokeswoman said.

Covid19.govt.nz: The Government's official Covid-19 advisory website

"The technology has existed for some time but the app was developed during lockdown at Kiwi Property's request.

"The app monitors the population inside Kiwi Property shopping centres at any given time.

"It operates by using cameras placed at every entrance monitoring the number of people entering and exiting the centre and will alert when centres are nearing the set capacity which allows centre management to take the appropriate measures to keep numbers down."

Elliott said the app will notify mall staff when the premises reach 80 per cent capacity.


He said other clients were also using the technology, but Kiwi Property had set theirs to a lower capacity limit than most.

"They realise if we were to go back to level 3 down the track, if they were able to demonstrate over the next couple of weeks that they were able to keep it cool in the mall, they may have a strong argument they could still operate, potentially," he said.

Elliott was not aware of technology being used like this in New Zealand previously.

He said other capacity tracking equipment set up a "laser beam" at entrances that counted how many times the beam was broken, but this did not account for when more than one person broke the beam at once.

The new app could help in emergency situations to provide a more accurate count of how many people were in a building at the time of a fire or earthquake, he said.

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