Automated SafeEntry gantries bring benefits

Visitors using the automated self-check-in gantry system at Square 2 shopping mall in Novena on May 3, 2021. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - More than 30 places around the island - including malls, offices, schools and places of worship - have rolled out automated gantries to manage visitor access and digital contact tracing.

These gantries can ensure that visitor SafeEntry check-ins are done properly for contact tracing, and that visitors are not running a fever or not wearing masks.

The automated gantries have been deployed at retail outlets like Decathlon, as well as popular malls such as Paragon Orchard, Suntec City and Square 2 in Novena, near Tan Tock Seng Hospital.

The Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts and the Di Zang Lin Buddhist temple in MacPherson Road have also had such gantries installed.

Under an ongoing trial with the Government Technology Agency (GovTech), these gantries have also incorporated the latest SafeEntry Gateway module, allowing visitors to tap their TraceTogether tokens or smartphones to check in.

The SafeEntry Gateway uses Bluetooth signals to detect a visitor's TraceTogether token or app, and makes it quicker and more convenient for users to check in, compared with the older method that scans QR codes or barcodes.

This comes after the Government announced last week that the mandatory use of TraceTogether for SafeEntry check-ins will be brought forward to May 17, about two weeks earlier than the previously announced June 1.

Safe management measures are likely to remain necessary for some time, and businesses have had to find more sustainable ways of ensuring compliance with prevailing measures.

Mall operators who spoke to The Straits Times cited the importance of ensuring visitors' safety, as well as convenience, as factors that led to the adoption of the gantries.

Ms Felicia Ang, assistant director of the retail business group at Far East Organization, said these allow the malls to open up more entrances. Most of the 17 malls managed by Far East have had the gantries installed.

The gantries can also help mall operators save on manpower costs.

Mr Alan Chua, executive director of Concorde Security, said this is a key reason why businesses are increasingly interested in automated solutions for temperature taking and SafeEntry check-ins.

The company is in the process of deploying its CG5 ServBot temperature-taking robot and turnstile system to various locations like Suntec City and Tanglin Mall, with plans for about 500 units to be deployed over the next few months.

He said: "You can see that a lot of manpower is being used at various malls and other locations. That is not going to be cheap, especially for places that operate 24/7."

As an example, Mr Chua noted that a person hired to man the entrance of a mall would be paid about $3,000 a month.

Given the need for multiple shifts to cover the mall's operating hours, as well as multiple entry points, it would cost the management several thousand dollars a month just to enforce temperature taking and contact tracing requirements. The automated system can be deployed for half the cost.

Gantries manufactured by local tech firm MQuest can cost between $14,000 and $20,000. PHOTO: MQUEST

Gantries manufactured by local tech firm MQuest that are being used at Paragon and Square 2, among other locations, can cost between $14,000 and $20,000, depending on the extent of customisation.

MQuest director Lim Boon Seng said businesses can choose to have their existing visitor management systems integrate with the gantry.

Mr Chua said Concorde is aiming to offer its CG5 ServBot to businesses free of charge for the first three months.

He added that the cost will be recouped by running advertisements on the screens of the robot, which will be priced based on the venue's footfall.

If the ad revenue generated is sufficient, it can also be split with the business operator, as an alternative to charging it a rental fee, he said.

"We'll try to do it in such a way that the places that adopt our solution will not have to pay a cent, if possible. At the same time, they can have some income from the advertising revenue generated."

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