The benefit of thermal screening

1 June 2020 Security Services & Risk Management

As most businesses are already planning and implementing measures to stay operational, the unnerving reality of indefinite closure looms. Industries across the country face this incredibly challenging situation while many are taking proactive steps to secure their premises in new ways in order to protect their staff and customers while continuing business. These solutions can provide organisations with an additional layer of protection to their facility from increased exposure to the coronavirus.

Thermal screening cameras cannot be used to detect or diagnose an infection

An important distinction to make is that body temperature solutions are not a medical solution. They cannot identify the virus and they do not protect organisations or individuals from catching the virus. Thermal body temperature solutions are a tool that can support the critical early identification of a primary symptom of the disease by measuring skin surface temperature of a person. People who are identified as having an elevated skin temperature can then be further tested by medical professionals. The screening solutions provide a non-invasive method to check body temperature and can do this faster than handheld scanners, but importantly, at safer distances.


Wayne Louw.

How is this technology being applied in the field?

Thermal screening solutions require a specialised thermographic camera to automatically measure temperature differences in people entering the field of view. Blackbody devices will calibrate the temperature measurement in environments where the person has been exposed to the elements and to increase accuracy in readings. Analytics or AI will target the temperature reading onto the forehead for the most accurate reading which in turn will activate a pre-set tolerance threshold alarm to the operator. This is done by using facial detection (not recognition) technology to locate the forehead accurately. The blackbody calibration unit utilises a target object with a set temperature as a control. This is important in measurement where accuracy to +/-0,3°C is critical. Thermal screening provides an alarm when an object or person is detected with an elevated temperature compared against a set temperature value, typically 38°C.

Thermal cameras assisting with COVID-19

With the heightened awareness and initiatives to combat the virus, the demand for non-contact thermal screening has grown exponentially. Public open spaces such as airports, train stations, medical facilities and manufacturing have been quick to respond with effective rollouts and deployments across the country. The most common of which being strategic camera placement at entry and egress points to monitor foot traffic. Notably, up to 30 targets can be screened simultaneously at any point without having to stop.

Key benefits of a thermal screening solution

• Non-contact – Distances range from 1 m to 9 m depending on technology.

• Non-invasive – No need to physically stop a person to take a reading.

• No human error – Traditional thermometers require a user to discern between low or high temperatures. This is now determined via AI.

• No physical manpower – The system could essentially operate autonomously.

• Record keeping – Every alarm exception is captured and stored, offering sound corporate governance.

• Alarm notification – The necessary escalation can be predetermined by setting up the head end software.

What are the different hardware technologies?

The following non-contact Hikvision thermal screening cameras below are used to accurately detect differences in skin surface temperatures:

1. Handheld thermography camera – The handheld thermal camera is specially designed for body temperature measurement. It’s equipped with a 160×120 resolution thermal detector and is capable of discovering and tracking people with elevated body temperatures in crowded public areas. It supports Live View on PC, mobile device or external monitor.

2. Walk-through detector – The walk-through metal detector with thermal imagery technology utilises non-contact temperature measurement with face detection. An exception alarm will trigger the strobe light as well as an audible sound. It features a visible display with people counter, real-time temperature and number of alarms.

3. Facial recognition terminal – An access control terminal that uses both biometrics and thermal fever screening as identification and validation.

4. Fixed mounted cameras – A traditional form factor dome or bullet camera with thermal screening functionality. Able to measure object's temperature at a high accuracy in real time, it is able to target and track up to 30 people with higher body temperature among a crowded public area.


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