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5 things to know before buying a thermal camera system

By Jamie Bumgardner, Prime Communications, Inc.

Thermal cameras have been a hot topic in the security industry as of late, as more and more businesses look to invest in solutions that can screen employees and customers for an elevated temperature before they enter a building. Thermal cameras are being used as one of many tools and protocols to help prevent the spread of COVID-19, since an elevated temperature is one of the most common symptoms of the virus.

Over the past few months, numerous companies have raced to develop and launch thermal camera solutions for the security industry. While hospitals, casinos, restaurants and even schools are among those who have already made the investment in this technology, facility executives and security directors should take into consideration the following as part of the buying and evaluation process of thermal imaging cameras.

  1. Look at the accuracy rate of the device and how frequently the camera needs to be calibrated. Does the camera use a black body device, which helps to maintain accuracy when measuring the temperature of a person’s forehead or inner canthus? Also, the black body device should arrive fully calibrated and should only need to be recalibrated every few months.
  2. Is the camera an FDA approved medical device? The FDA has issued guidelines on the use of “telethermographic systems.” An FDA approved thermal imaging camera meets IEC standards, which dictate accuracy rate and throughput guidelines, such as screening only one individual at a time.
  3. How will the thermal data be stored? This is a question that needs to be addressed in order to ensure privacy and data security rules are followed, such as GDPR and California’s CCPA rule. Much like video collected and stored as part of a VMS system, data collected as part of a thermal imaging camera scan also requires privacy protection measures.
  4. Many businesses will test and try out a new keypad, IP camera or access control reader before making that purchase. The same approach should be taken with thermal imaging cameras. Work closely with your security systems integrator to thoroughly vet and test the technology prior to buying it.
  5. What’s the long-term value of this camera to your business or organization? Do you expect to be able to use this camera post-COVID as part of your company’s surveillance program or will it go into the closet waiting for the next pandemic? Make sure you have a plan in place for what you do with these thermal imaging cameras post-pandemic.

As people look to return to work and to school, consider collaborating with your systems integrator partner about which safety protocols and technologies, like thermal imaging cameras, you can put into place to help to make that transition possible.

The Role of Security in a COVID World

by John Krumme, CPP, Cam-Dex Security

How security is minimizing COVID-19 risk

We all know the benefits of a comprehensive security solution and program. Protecting people and assets has been priority number one for those associated with the security industry since its inception. The industry has accomplished this by developing new technologies and safety programs that help to keep unwanted visitors off a property and to proactively identify and alert authorities of an intruder.

Now, the security industry is finding itself in new territory and this includes helping to minimize health risks in a COVID-19 world. Technology originally developed to watch people entering and exiting an area is now being used to detect elevated temperatures. Access control systems developed with leading edge technology in mind, such as mobile credentials, are now recognized as touchless access control solutions that so many corporations and universities demand today.

As we look ahead to the future and move beyond just protecting people and assets, here are a few considerations relating to new ways that security technology is being leveraged.

Thermal Imaging Cameras

Thermal imaging camera technology has been part of the security industry for at least two decades. Using heat mapping technology, it has proved valuable to help identify individuals entering a predefined area at night when lighting conditions may make it difficult to detect a person using traditional surveillance cameras. However, until recently, their deployment has been limited primarily to military applications, perimeter protection and usage for high security areas.

Now, casinos, restaurants, and even hospitals are starting to deploy thermal imaging camera systems as part of their first line of defense to detect elevated temperatures. These specially designed cameras, which can detect a specific temperature in a person, are helping businesses to quickly screen customers and visitors using a method that requires minimal direct human contact with that visitor.

Security directors who are looking at implementing this technology are also considering future benefits. This includes developing a comprehensive Prevention Plan. The thermal imaging camera can be integrated to monitor and report social distancing. By integrating these cameras with other security technologies, you can maximize effectiveness, including responding more rapidly to the real-time data provided.

Touchless Entry

As more people look to limit the number of surfaces they touch when they enter a building, whether it’s the office, grocery story or school building, access control systems that support touchless entry has received additional attention over these few months.

Companies are investing in automatic door opening systems that integrate with a Proximity card reader or mobile credentials. While traditionally used for high traffic areas – such as entrances into large retail stores or large medical centers – automatic door entry systems eliminate the need for a person to touch a door handle to enter an area.

Leveraging touchless solutions, such as mobile credentials, instead of a keypad or biometric fingerprint system, minimizes contact with a specific security device. This is an important consideration moving forward, especially since the entrance into secure areas may be used by dozens of people in a given day.

Restricting Access

While managing access – who can come and go within a specific area – has been a focus for the security industry, corporations are looking at incorporating additional parameters into their access control systems. This includes restricting access to specific floors in a building for employees. Previously if a person worked at a business that individual may have been able to move around the building more freely. Working in conjunction with the elevator control system, that employee may only be permitted to exit the elevator on his designated floor.

In addition, access control systems are being used to help monitor the number of people within a specific area. For example, if the office lunchroom has a limited capacity of five people, access would be restricted until another individual badges out of that area.

Without a doubt, security technology has evolved over the years, incorporating new capabilities once never imagined possible. Now, due to COVID-19 the industry is finding itself in a new, expanded position, adding value not just to security but also to public health and safety.