Thermal Detection Monitoring in the Age of COVID-19

As states begin to ease COVID-19 restrictions, organizations must consider how and when they’ll reopen and how to keep employees, students, patients, and customers safe.

The CDC offers guidance in a “Re-Opening Workplaces During the COVID-19 Pandemic” decision tool. They suggest three key questions to guide re-opening decisions:

  • Will reopening comply with state and local orders and protect high-risk employees?
  • Are recommended safety measures in place?
  • Is ongoing monitoring in place?

It is the last question about ongoing monitoring that will likely require re-thinking tools and processes. How will your organization monitor employees, students, customers, patients, and others?

Monitoring temperatures with thermal detection systems

One way, of course, is to run a good, old-fashioned digital thermometer across the forehead, an ideal solution if you have just a couple of employees. But what if you have to take the temperatures of more than ten people waiting in long lines, impacting social distancing requirements and dragging productivity down?

Thermal detection systems offer a faster, less obtrusive way. A thermal imaging camera detects and maps heat, making them useful in all kinds of applications—from detecting leaks and failure points in manufacturing and industrial plants, to conducting surveillance in law enforcement and military operations, to diagnosing disorders and disease in healthcare.

While these systems have been in use for a while, today, they offer a meaningful way to detect high temperatures that can indicate serious illness, such as influenza, COVID-19 and others. It can also be a deterrent for those who are sick, ensuring that they stay home.

Purpose-built cameras are typically connected to computer workstations and monitors. As people walk by, thousands of temperature readings are taken at a single spot on each person’s face—which keeps cameras from detecting people carrying a cup of coffee, for example—instantly producing a two-dimensional heat map. Screeners can then respond as appropriate.

What to look for in a thermal detection system

Thermal detection solutions come in many form factors—from high-end integrated systems to standalone portable systems that can be moved on demand. But not all solutions are created equal. When considering thermal detection systems, look for:

  • High degrees of temperature accuracy to minimize false positives.
  • Appropriate temperature sensitivity and range that enables a less intrusive experience for people moving in front of cameras.
  • Ability to scan many people at once to reduce lines, waits, and productivity losses.
  • Ambient temperature sensitivity that enables you to use the solution indoors or out—without interference from air temperatures.
  • Fast response times to instantly detect high temperatures.

Some solutions also provide flexible options for recording and saving data (or not), as well as AI and data analytics capabilities that can extend your use beyond this current pandemic to maximize the value of the system. 

Logicalis: Experts at thermal detection systems

Logicalis has successfully helped customers implement thermal detection systems for other applications, and has the expertise needed to help you identify, evaluate, implement, and support a thermal detection solution to help with COVID-19 monitoring and other applications. Our partners offer multiple form factors to fit your needs.

Case study: Manufacturing facility

A Logicalis customer, this manufacturer operates 10 facilities with approximately 200 employees in each facility. They’re considering re-opening and have estimated that it would take at least one hour to manually take employees’ temperatures, both when they arrive at work and anytime they have to re-enter the building (e.g., after lunch). With multiple shifts operating, this scenario would cost thousands of dollars each day—and a hit to productivity.

Logicalis met with this customer to thoroughly understand their needs and recommend a solution for their organization—a solution that has already been implemented and is ready for the organization to re-open.

Listen to our Podcast on Thermal Detection Solutions to learn more. Or contact us for help identifying a solution for your organization.

Bill Evans is Director of Architecture for IoT & Analytics for Logicalis US, responsible for helping customers solve their technical challenges.