In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, many businesses have made significant changes to operations to ensure that everyone, from employees to visitors, is as safe as possible. From implementing social distancing spaces at work to re-arranging offices and workstations, and even limiting the number of employees who are in the office at a time, we’re all doing our best to keep businesses running, while protecting everyone in the building.

But beyond the standard guidelines mentioned above, new solutions are hitting the market. Thermal imaging cameras for fever detection are a notable addition that we’ve started to hear quite a bit about, so we thought we’d take some time to dive into the technology and assess whether it’s a viable option for your business.

What Are Thermal Imaging Cameras?

A thermal imaging camera picks up heat emitted by an object or person. Thermal imaging isn’t new to the security industry, and thermal surveillance systems have been used for years to pick up signs of intruders in low-visibility areas, where it’s easier to sense heat than it is to pick up video footage.

When COVID-19 began to spread, the role of the thermal imaging camera system began to shift. Now, high-accuracy thermal imaging camera systems are being used to detect an elevated temperature. This is particularly useful as many who contract COVID-19 do not immediately show obvious symptoms. By implementing a thermal fever detection (or thermal imaging) camera, employers and business owners have a better opportunity to identify those with an elevated temperature before they come into close contact with others.

How Are Thermal Imaging Cameras Implemented for COVID-19 Prevention?

There are a few ways that thermal imaging cameras can be implemented to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Depending on your business, how much foot traffic you receive, and what your specific concerns are for thermal fever detection, one of these thermal camera solutions may make more sense for your application than others.

High Volume Temperature Scanners

These are screening systems that make use of both visual and thermal sensors to detect elevated skin temperature with a higher degree of accuracy. This type of thermal imaging is best for higher-volume applications. For example, if your company sees a lot of foot traffic in and out during the day, this is a solution designed to handle scanning more people at once.

Hand-Held No-Contact Thermometers

Hand-held thermometers use a similar, but more accurate technology to take people’s temperatures. The operator holds the thermometer in front of the forehead of the person being tested, and the thermometer measures the person’s temperature. This is an accurate option for detecting fevers but will take a bit more time, as each person must be scanned individually.

Temperature Scanner with Facial Recognition

This is an ideal solution for large or highly-secure business applications. These thermal imaging systems combine fever detection with facial recognition to provide improved control access. For example, let’s say your company uses a sophisticated access control system. When a person is scanned as they enter the building, the system associates their temperature with their employee profile. If their temperature comes back high, the system could deny their card access for the day, preventing a potentially sick person from entering the building.

Walk-Through Temperature Scanning Gate

For businesses that already employ a metal detection gate, this is an ideal solution. Temperature scanning is seamlessly integrated into the metal detection gate, allowing you to complete both scans simultaneously. This helps introduce work safe fever detection into your existing operations, ensuring employees do not experience any additional delays.

Considerations to Make Before Implementing in Your Workplace or Business

While thermal imaging cameras may be a great addition to your COVID-19 preparedness and prevention plan, it’s important to understand the costs and any drawbacks associated with the technology before you go ahead and make the investment. Here are a couple of considerations to make about thermal imaging for COVID-19 prevention.

The Cost of Thermal Imaging for COVID-19 Prevention

Thermal imaging technology can be expensive, especially if you’re looking for a highly-accurate, high-volume temperature scanner. For large corporations, the benefits of this technology may very well outweigh the costs — General Motors and Amazon are both reported to have installed thermal imaging cameras as a first line of defense against the pandemic.

For smaller companies, a robust thermal imaging system like this may not make financial sense. If you still want to implement some sort of fever detection technology, a hand-held, no-contact thermometer might be a better option. Though you’ll have to sacrifice a bit of time when employees show up in the morning, it’s a more cost-effective solution.

Just One Part of your COVID-19 Prevention Plan

It’s also important to understand the limitations of thermal imaging technology. While there are exceptionally accurate systems on the market, it’s good to remember that the human body experiences normal temperature changes throughout the day and as hormones fluctuate. Since thermal imaging technology relies primarily on the temperature of the skin — rather than the body’s core temperature — it’s a good idea to pair thermal imaging with other components of a COVID-19 prevention and work safety program.

For example, you may consider having all employees and visitors walk through a thermal imaging station when they enter the workplace. If someone’s temperature is high, they could be sent to a secondary station where a thermometer is used to verify their core temperature.

Another consideration to make is that not all patients with COVID-19 experience a fever. This is another reason to implement thermal imaging only as a supplement to your social distancing and workplace safety plan. While thermal imaging is a great way to positively detect fevers, other methods — like wearing masks and ensuring employees keep their distance — should still be practiced.

Can’t decide if thermal imaging cameras are right for your business? Discuss it with an expert. The Vanguard Fire & Security team is here to discuss your specific application, and pair you with the security option that best fits your needs. Give us a call at 800-444-8719 or contact us online today for more information.

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