By Andy Clutter
Marketing Director, SenSource Inc.
YOUNGSTOWN – It was mid-March and governors from various states had wrapped up their respective press conferences in which they announced measures to slow the COVID-19 pandemic.
Joe Varacalli, SenSource president and CEO, had been keeping a close eye on the pandemic, trying to decide how to handle his team of 23 employees in their Youngstown office. After hearing occupancy guidelines, he came to two conclusions: “We need to send everyone home and we need to get to work.”
In the first company meeting with everyone working from home, Varacalli detailed his vision for an occupancy solution using SenSource’s people counting technologies. “We count people. If we put our minds together, we can create a system that will help businesses adhere to the rules,” he said.
The transition to a real-time threshold occupancy monitoring tool was quite a shift. “The biggest thing was a mindset change,” observes Jeremy Forsythe, director of software engineering. “We have always operated with data pushes every minute or hour or day. This was going from those pushes to real-time as events took place. We had to pivot on a dime.”
Within three weeks, the team launched SafeSpace Occupancy Monitoring in its initial beta phase. Bug fixes, infrastructure improvements and product enhancements followed as the solution was adopted by businesses across the country.
SafeSpace uses SenSource’s people-counting sensors to track entries and exits at businesses. Counts are pushed to a customer-facing display to communicate current occupancies so shoppers know if they are allowed to enter.
When a major national grocery brand adopted SafeSpace, reality set in for Dan Aluise, SenSource general manager. “It hit home,” he says. “We were excited to get the business. But most of all, we realized we were truly helping businesses stay open.”
Fast forward to 2021 and SenSource has fully integrated SafeSpace into its people-counting suite of products. Orders remained strong throughout 2020 and the company is well positioned to build on this success in 2021.
“We couldn’t have achieved half of what we did if every single person didn’t step up and make sacrifices to ensure our success,” says CEO Varacalli. “SenSource is a business that counts people, comprised of a team of people that can be counted on.”