The Importance of Thermal Imaging Cameras in Public Buildings

By Matthew Margetts

Having your temperature checked is becoming part of normal life as the UK attempts to recover from the coronavirus pandemic.

To limit the spread of the coronavirus, the public sector has had to look to technology to find ways to screen people who enter them.  

As a solution, many businesses have purchased thermometer guns because a temperature is one of the key symptoms of the virus. However, these guns have been criticized for their inaccuracy. Not only do they have to be administered in person, but screeners may hold them at the wrong distance or use them in the wrong environment. It is because of these concerns that thermal imaging cameras are becoming more and more popular as a means to test people as they enter retail stores, schools and office blocks.

What are the advantages of thermal imaging camera systems?

Thermal imaging cameras can detect very small changes in people’s temperatures, giving business owners better insight into the potential risks carried by individuals, and in turn, helping them to make informed decisions about the welfare of their staff. 

The fever camera system from Smarter Technologies, for example, is a sophisticated online, multiple thermal imaging camera system. The cameras report to a cloud-based dashboard, providing automated scanning and instant alerts in the event of temperature being detected. This is all done remotely, removing the risk of human contact.

The tech group’s solution to temperature camera systems is also medically accurate within +- 0.3 degrees; measurements are taken in seconds and data can be accessed and viewed from a safe distance. This means that there is minimal disruption in public places and the risk of cross-contamination to the operator is significantly reduced. What’s more, the system can be used with minimal training, and the service is suitable for any size operation – from small offices to large schools. 

How do thermal imaging cameras work?

The human eye and ordinary cameras can capture only one region of the electromagnetic (EM) spectrum: visible light, which occurs when white light bounces through an object and turns into an image perceivable by the eye or camera lenses.

Meanwhile, thermal imaging focuses on infrared energy, or in simpler terms, heat. Once a thermal imaging camera detects infrared or thermal energy, it will capture these energies and translate them into analog or digital video outputs.

Since thermal imaging cameras can capture thermal energy, they’re incredibly useful for detecting body heat, which can be a good indication of COVID-19 infection. For instance, when the camera detects high levels of temperature from an individual, the facility’s administration can intervene to further examine if the suspected person is, indeed, positive with the disease.

Moreover, a thermal imaging surveillance system is beneficial in darker areas of a surveillance area. The calibration in these cameras also provide more accurate measurements and can help manage alerts.

However, it’s crucial to know that thermal imaging cameras alone aren’t enough to diagnose COVID-19. Some people can be contagious with the disease, without exhibiting symptoms of fever and increased temperature. Thus, public facilities should exercise more precautions through valiant efforts, such as proper use of technology, capacity limitations, strict sanitary protocols, and social distancing requirements.

Schools

Schools across the globe are being presented with the daunting task of balancing the risks to staff, children and families. It is for this reason that more and more schools in the UK are investing in thermal imaging cameras.

Outbreaks in schools are inevitable, but a precision tool, like a thermal imaging camera, can help. A thermal imaging camera placed at a school’s entrance can provide information on whether any student, staff member or visitor is displaying a high temperature and anyone who does show a high temperature can be asked about whether they have displayed symptoms or can be checked by a nurse. These cameras can also help to reassure students, teachers and parents that the school is taking their health seriously. 

Office blocks

Given the devastating impact of the coronavirus upon the UK economy, the government is eager to ease lockdown restrictions and get people back to work as soon as is safely possible. In response to the need for greater workplace protection, several companies have turned to thermal imaging cameras as an extra safety precaution.

If your business is considering installing these cameras it is important to note that under UK employment law, staff must agree to be screened before an employer can test their temperature. However, some work contracts will automatically allow for this by so-called ‘implied consent.’ The law also requires employers to handle the information they gather fairly and transparently. 

Retail stores

Retail stores across the world, such as Amazon owned, WholeFood, have installed thermal imaging cameras to detect whether staff or customers have a high temperature. The decision to install these cameras is being taken in addition to other safety measures that include social distancing markers, hand sanitiser stations, and limiting on the number of people allowed in the shop at any one time. Retail stores that have chosen to install the cameras want to show their customers that they are willing to go the extra mile.

It is important to recognise that thermal imaging cameras are not designed to diagnose the coronavirus and they should not be used to replace social distancing. Rather, these cameras add another layer of protection that will allow buildings to function more efficiently in terms of the throughput of people while providing peace of mind and safeguarding the environment for workers and visitors. 

For more information on Smarter Technologies’ fever camera systems for crowd solutions, click here.

About the Author

Matthew Margetts brings experience in media and technology spanning more than 25 years. His background includes working for blue-chip companies such as AppNexus, AOL/ Verizon, and Microsoft in the UK, Far East, and Australia.

About Smarter Technologies Group

Contact: [email protected]

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