At some point in the (hopefully) near future, COVID-19 cases will decrease and businesses will reopen – nonetheless, life as we know it will not ever be the same. The possibility of a second wave of infections, the fear of new biochemical threats and our increased awareness of contagion will radically change the way we interact in our communities and our workplaces.
Looking ahead at this new normal, companies are contemplating how to conduct business in a safe, welcoming and successful environment. To an extent, there are State and Federal guidelines outlining best practices, but still, each business will need to map out a continuity plan that meets compliance and also promotes the comfort and productivity of its occupants.
Screening the Solutions
Our engineers have been studying a range of business continuity solutions. The hottest item (pun intended) currently discussed by business leaders are thermal cameras. These intelligent cameras are equipped with sensors to detect temperature and can be used as a gatekeeper at the entrance of a building to prevent people reading over 100.4°F – a key symptom of COVID-19 – from entering.
Thermal cameras have typically been deployed for industrial and night vision uses, however, since the outbreak of SARS in 2003, high traffic ports-of-entry such as airports and seaports, have steadily adopted them to screen body temperature. The software rapidly detects a person’s temperature relative to the rest of the crowd and emits an alert if triggered. The newest cameras are equipped with integrations to third-party video management platforms.
At the DES offices, we are actively testing out the CohuHD Costar line of thermal cameras. These cameras have a strong degree of accuracy, a high through-put rate – at least 6 people can be scanned per minute – and a relatively lower purchasing cost than its competitors. We are also testing out their integrations with third-party surveillance systems. Depending on your IP security platform, we could connect the camera to your entry point access system and block entry to visitors or tenants who fail the temperature reading. We will keep you posted as we roll out this new solution.
While thermal imaging is accurate with a margin of error of 0.5°F, the FDA cautions against using non-medical-grade cameras as a diagnostic tool. Thermal imaging serves as an efficient screening tool – a single layer of protection – that can rapidly scan a high influx of foot traffic. We recommend having on-hand in your screening station a secondary method to read temperature, such as an FDA-approved thermometer.
A Multi-Layered Continuity Solution
For thermal imaging to be most effective, it must be nested in a wider continuity strategy that includes a true mix of solutions. Here are several technology overlays that can assist with your protection strategy:
People Counter: As States lessen lockdown restrictions, businesses are being allowed to operate with strict occupancy guidelines. People counting is currently used by law enforcement or security personal in large public gatherings. The software can be configured to count the people who enter and exit a location, giving you an occupancy tally. A business with an existing networked surveillance system could integrate a people counter tool with relative ease.
No-Touch Entry Access: Consider replacing touchpads or fingerprint readers with contactless solutions, such as card readers, or Bluetooth and mobile access.
Mass Notification Systems: Mass notification systems utilize existing digital signage for timely communication lessening the need for face-to-face communication. These unified systems, along with remote conferencing, can help a business set a tone for clarity and communication while being mindful of social distancing.
Contact Tracing: In the event of an employee or visitor contracting the coronavirus, it is crucial that anyone who was in contact with that individual take precautions to avoid further contagion. The Genetec Omnicast platform, which we use, can be configured with video analytics to isolate an individual from the surveillance footage and compile a time lapse reel of that individual’s movements.
As the New Normal unfolds and crystalizes, we will be methodically reframing our solution portfolio. Stay tuned for more updates and please contact our sales team to discuss your business continuity requirements.