A NORTH-EAST firm has developed crowd control technology in response to the coronavirus pandemic, in just three weeks.

Ocucon, based in Newcastle, were asked by Aldi to help develop a system that manages the number of people entering and shopping in their stores.

The system, called Occupi, uses red and green light displays, ‘traffic lights’ at store entrances to advise shoppers when it is safe to enter and is being installed in Aldi’s 1,040 stores in the UK and Ireland, including across the North-East.

Another 150 retail multiples have contacted the firm about the system.

The technology, which can be be fully integrated with CCTV systems and door security, can marshal shoppers so automatic doors will only open when there is space.

This is calculated on those inside, the shop’s size and social distancing requirements.

This works through video cameras above doors, coordinating and controlling customer movement, monitoring customer numbers in store and managing entry based.

Since its launch, two new features have been introduced to allow shopping to be more accessible for people with visual and hearing impairments.

The first is a customisable audio prompt which will give verbal instructions to people queuing, while the other is a visual display that will be installed outside.

Gary Trotter, the firm's founder and chief executive said: “Covid-19 gave us the impetus to work collaboratively and innovatively to develop a solution in record time.

"From concept to delivery it took less than three weeks.

"We continue to work closely with Aldi and other customers to ensure that the system is responsive to customer needs and can adapt to the changing world we are operating in.

“In the midst of a global pandemic, there was an incredible spirit of collaboration and innovation in the way we came together to develop Occupi.

"We were lucky to have a client in Aldi who asked us for help and lucky to have the technological expertise and partners to help deliver what is a truly ground breaking solution for retailers.”