The sales of thermal imaging security cameras have spiked in recent months as companies look to virus-proof themselves in order to comply with health protocols set out by the government. While these types of surveillance cameras have been around for a long time to detect fires or intruders, they are now beginning to be repurposed for virus detection.
As employees return to their workplaces, Covid-19 health requirements mean that each employee has to be screened for symptoms before they enter the premises to reduce the risk of exposure.
Thermal screening technology is contactless, quick and effective: it can scan a large number of people at once to check their body temperatures. It picks up the heat radiation from the surface of the skin, then converts them into heat zone images, showing high and low temperatures. AI algorithms are at work to ignore other heat sources such as a cup of coffee someone may be carrying.
If it picks up abnormal human temperatures, it triggers a warning signal. The person can then be isolated in a separate area for further inspection and receive possible medical referral.
Fever screening solutions like those from Hikivision are available as a handheld scanning device or bullet cameras stationed at entrances. The handheld devices can be connected to your wireless internet to send notifications and alarms to your PC and smartphone. The surveillance cameras are fitted with analytics for fast and more accurate assessments.
The technology was first rolled out across numerous industries when the pandemic began sweeping around the globe. Gary Hickey of technology company Hikvision, which supplies thermal cameras, predicted: “I think we’ll see them everywhere pretty much…Aged care, independent living, schools, hospitals, pubs, clubs.”
One of the early adopters of the technology is American retail giant, who was hit by coronavirus cases at its warehouses. Amazon brought in the thermal screening technology after several employees walked out in protest of the infections and the company’s failure to act.
In a preliminary report, Thermal Imagers and Detectors 2020 it is projected that more than 1.5 million fever detection cameras will be installed in 2020 and in the next 3-4 years at airports, businesses and other places of infrastructure.
When the pandemic started to spread in South Africa, thermal imaging technology became more widely used for screening than ever before. They are already found in hospitals and airports, with more and more small to medium businesses enquiring about the technology.
The technology could become the CCTV camera of the future when the pandemic ends: many companies will want to implement these heat sensors to monitor sick employees or just be prepared for another outbreak.
As Nashua’s MD Barry Venterputs it: “installing this type of technology makes for good health and safety practice in general…if you consider the guidelines in terms of returning to work and implementing improved health and safety measures. Businesses and establishments have to ensure they know who is coming onto their premises.