Companies nationwide are looking for tools to help them open back up and operate safely, from placing sanitizer at doors and providing employees and guests masks, all things precautions being considered. Some businesses are considering thermal cameras to test for elevated temperatures.
An elevated temperature is one of the first warning signs of Covid-19, although health experts point out that’s just one of many potential symptoms. It’s already being used on people coming into most hospitals and businesses are adopting the technology rapidly as they return from the shut-down
Thermal cameras can quickly detect temperatures as people enter a place of business and flag potential cases of coronavirus amongst employees and customers. When combined with social distancing, hand sanitizers, masks, and other preventive measures infrared cameras are highly efficient and effective tools.
Infrared cameras detect elevated skin temperatures, alerting the possible presence of a fever. The fever, whether due to coronavirus or another underlying cause, can then be confirmed by further tests.
Benefits of Thermal Camera Systems
- Non-contact: employees and customers don’t need to be touched by screeners.
- Immediate Results: Temperatures can be captured and processed as people walk past cameras. The system alerts screeners if a body temperature exceeds a set threshold, so they can take action.
- High Accuracy: Thermal cameras are highly accurate at detecting temperatures.
- Portable: Thermal camera screening systems can be easily set up at most business points of entry.
- Short Payback: Varies by company size and camera solution but can be as short as 1 to 5 months for most companies.
Thermal cameras have already been sold and deployed at hundreds of private companies. This spring the Food and Drug Administration issued recommendations for expanding the use of thermal cameras in response to coronavirus as an initial measurement during triage.
Thermal cameras first saw prime time in the fight against contagious disease during the Ebola outbreak in 2014. CNN quickly picked up this story and used it to assure the public there were methods to potentially limit the spread of life-threatening pathogens.
The technology is not without its detractors, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) raised questions about privacy issues related to the use of thermal cameras. and other potentially privacy-invasive technologies in this crisis. Jay Stanley, a senior policy analyst with the ACLU stated, “Every citizen should be asking, “Is that sacrifice I’m making, is this something that’s actually something that’s going to be effective or is this public health security theater?”
Management shouldn’t dismiss these concerns. We recommend management be very transparent with employees about this technology. They should take the time to be prepared to explain the camera’s purpose, what data will be stored and for how long, and answer any other questions employees may have. Businesses should turn off facial recognition and also have a plan to decommission cameras after we achieve certain milestones with the virus. Companies deploying cameras should also have a policy for people who don’t want their temperature taken.
Thermal camera systems are a great way to ensure employees and customers that the business cares and is acting responsibly in its reopening. Most importantly, thermal cameras can be paid back in as little as two months.