As the world considers how and when to ease restrictions of recent isolation and social distancing measures, there’s a focus on how to protect the workforce. Central to this is how to monitor people for infection. Thermal technology has been recognized by the FDA in the US and many other countries as being useful in ‘high throughput areas (eg airports, businesses, warehouses, and factories)’1, and is being considered around the world as one part of a ‘return to work’ strategy.
Businesses are understandably keen to get back to normal operations – in fact economies rely on that. But employers are looking at risk assessing the situation to figure out ways to make the workplace as safe as possible for employees to return. Employers have a duty of care to keep their employees safe as well as needing them to be able to work.
The way to do this has taken many forms in these discussions – from changing shift patterns and working from home policies to looking at cleaning regimens and how items are shared in the office.
But perhaps the most crucial aspect of all is reducing the risk of infection getting in at all – at the front door. Taking the lead from other public places, for example airports and government buildings, companies are now considering checking temperature as a monitoring function. With temperature screening equipment at an entrance, employers can automatically check if someone entering registers a higher temperature. This can flag a potential issue and further steps can be taken to check the body temperature of that person, using clinical measurement devices. In some cases, visitors are not allowed access if their temperature is ‘too high’.
Thermal cameras lead the charge here – they can detect a person’s skin surface temperature to an accuracy of +/-0.3˚C automatically, with a Blackbody calibrator. The technology is flexible too. Cameras can be set up as a temporary measure, flagging any temperature above a certain level. But the technology can also be integrated into an access control gate, meaning temperature measurement can be used as a means to deny entry.
The use of such a solution gives an employer the ability to monitor one of the potential signs of confirmed cases – ie raised temperature. They can monitor people as they enter the building without having to stop each one. As well as making this less intrusive and preventing delay, this method means that there’s less human contact. The ‘screeners’ can do the job at a distance, and it also takes fewer resources to carry out this important task.
Thermal screening solutions
Hikvision’s thermal portfolio has a number of options to help with temperature screening2. For example, a Turret/Bullet Camera with AI combined with iVMS 4200, a laptop and a bracket can be used as a quick solution that can be easily and quickly installed. Another option is the MinMoe Wall-Mounting Touch-free Temperature Screening Terminal that combines temperature measurement with access control. Although the cameras have an accuracy of ±0.5°C in any case, even higher accuracy can be achieved by adding a Blackbody calibrator to the solution. There’s also a more mobile option, using a Handheld Camera that can connect to a smart phone or PC through Wi-Fi to a Hik-Thermal app.
The technology includes a compensation algorithm that ensures the result takes into account ambient temperature and distance for better accuracy. To further enhance accuracy, with the use of AI the cameras only flag human skin-surface temperature and not other heat sources (for example a hot drink). They can also be set up to detect whether or not a person is wearing a mask.
Although temperature measurement is only one aspect of the fight for keeping us healthy without a resurgence of cases, it does present the most practical to implement. With thermal technology on their doorstep, employers can reduce risk to their employees, and visitors, while maintaining a flow of workers necessary to keep their business running. Not much is certain in these times, but technology and innovation can go some ways to helping build the new ‘normal’.
2. It’s important to remember that Hikvision’s temperature screening thermographic cameras are designed for the detection of skin-surface temperatures so as to achieve rapid preliminary screening in public areas. Actual core body temperatures should be further confirmed using clinical measurement devices.