A thermal camera has a sensor that detects heat, including body temperature. It portrays an infrared image via a thermal imager, reading the image in the infrared spectrum. Unlike night vision, thermal imaging detects thermal energy, or heat, emitting off an object, not the infrared light reflecting off it. Objects that give off heat will show on the infrared thermal spectrum from red to white. White being the hottest. The human body is thermal. We have a blackbody, meaning we naturally emit heat upwards of 100 degrees. Because of this, our body shows thermal images in the infrared spectrum on an infrared camera.
Using a thermographic camera to detect fever during the COVID-19 crisis saves many healthcare employees from unnecessary exposure to the virus. At the same time, a highly accurate thermal imager and blackbody 100-degree image detect body temperature over 100 within a .5 degree variance for accuracy. In this way, we continue to keep healthcare professionals safe, making them aware of potential threats for additional safety measures.
A camera sensor detecting fever helps to reduce the number of individuals exposed to the virus. A thermal camera installed or mounted on a tripod and remotely controlled will lower the contact of admitting personnel and those at high-risk. Furthermore, remote handling protects those who now stay behind glass or a desk. The imaging camera focuses on the chokepoint that visitors enter through. In this way, checkpoint entry is secure for fever detection before people enter the building. During the COVID-19 crisis, those who are positive for fever may come in through a separate door, or answer select questions before entry. Additionally, you may direct them to a separate waiting room for further protection. Likewise, doing so will reduce exposure to those waiting who do not show fever symptoms.
Having a thermal camera upholds social distancing further by removing the nurse from taking physical temperature data with a thermometer. The thermographic camera software links to the patient’s chart, therefore eliminating the necessity for their physical presence during charting. The camera is guided by a nurse remotely and charted without direct exposure. Healthcare professionals must ask numerous questions, a process that requires someone else’s susceptibility. With a thermal camera detecting fever, the healthcare professionals ask questions through glass or other means of keeping a safe distance. Our recent blog, Coronavirus Emergency Preparedness for Business, discusses other frontend hardening options and measures that increase safety and security in the workplace. We can’t avoid exposure to everyone. However, we can drastically reduce the number of employees compromised.
To continue safety, pharmacies increase security by requiring customers with fever to use the drive-through window. Employees sanitize the counter space after medication pick up for additional safety protocol too. Software integration sends alert messages after serving a customer with a temperature. A warning shows it’s time to wipe down the counters. These directions and warnings come after a person with fever have been serviced, as well as periodically throughout the day to ensure continued cleansing and reduced exposure.
The thermal camera is extremely accurate when installed correctly. Correct installation requires a known-temperature calibration unit (known as a blackbody device) installed within the camera’s field of view. In a typical building entrance or lobby scenario, the thermal camera points at the entrance, while the blackbody device mounts next to or above the doorway. Collectively, the thermal camera and blackbody device deliver temperature measurement accuracy greater than .5 degrees Fahrenheit. Within a millisecond, the camera automatically detects if the person passed or failed the fever test. Next, any failure receives instructions per your establishment protocols.
Thermal imaging detects temperature measurement differences or degrees. Industries use this technology to identify temperature differences. For example, industries use it to detect machinery that may be overheating, or heat-loss through windows and doors for home inspections. Moreover, the detection of body temperature also helps military and emergency responders. Thermal cameras detect people in the dark or through a building filled with smoke, for instance. Finally, as we see today, the healthcare industry benefits from identifying fever in patients. Many industries use thermal technology.
There are many makes and models of thermal imaging cameras and devices. Some popular thermal imaging cameras, such as FLIR thermal cameras and handheld units, are made to measure and monitor broad temperature ranges in machinery or structures. These are not intended or reliable for use in human body temperature readings. Even the most expensive thermal cameras and handhelds used for industrial machine monitoring and building inspection have stated accuracies of no better than +/- 3 degrees Celsius. That’s plus or minus more than 5 degrees Fahrenheit. A measurement nowhere near the less than .5 degree Fahrenheit needed to effectively and confidently detect individuals with fevers as they enter a building or lobby.
Chimera Integrations is one of a handful of security companies that combine thermal cameras with software. Integrating the camera into the database has many possible values for the employer and the human resources department. For instance, a positive fever during the Coronavirus pandemic automatically triggers a “you can not work for 14 days,” quarantine. The affected employee, security, and human resources receive a message alert. Employers also streamline the data entry and reporting process by alerting need-to-know personnel immediately. The software then tracks how many people are out and when they will return.
Furthermore, database integration sends an email or text to all fellow employees who had contact with that individual. Automatically a quick survey explaining the degrees of contact, close, medium, or none, begins contact tracing. Additionally, it monitors and reports which individuals have and have not responded to the poll. Through contact tracing data, you instantly know what level of contact and potential exposure someone had. Also, you know who is jeopardized by exposure. Human resources and department managers review the records and make informed decisions based on levels of contact.
Absolutely not! First, researchers anticipate the virus resurfacing this autumn and other similar illnesses to come. When the COVID-19 crisis subsides, the thermal imaging camera still connects to the overall video surveillance system. After COVID-19, it connects without necessarily stopping individuals or automatically sending alerts. Just because the pandemic has passed does not make the technology and benefits any less useful. In fact, it will keep employees better prepared for the next case. This technology has a low-level security purpose year-round, charting body temperature and fever. It resumes to high-level security, restricting access or special instructions when another crisis arises.
Moreover, with system integration, it charts and analyzes data to anticipate rising crises. The data provides info before the numbers reach out of control. As with any computer system, it interprets and controls data better and faster than a human. A human’s perception varies. What is coming through the entire office or facility is uncontrolled at any given time, whereas a computer is definite.
Right now, Chimera Integrations has a complete solution installed and working in approximately two weeks. If you think you are too far into this pandemic for installation to be effective, you’re wrong. Stop further spread for the remainder of this pandemic by being a part of the solution and preparing for future episodes.
Within the last two weeks of March, New York alone saw 66,497 new cases of Coronavirus. Installing a thermal camera set-up reduces exposure by a conservative estimate of a one-to-one ratio. With this in mind, you save exposing over 66 thousand more individuals in two weeks, within the next month, that could be over 264,000 in NY alone.