Technology to Fight COVID-19
Further to my last blog about getting back to work, I have written this one to provide some information on the new technology that is available to help business get back to work and fight the spread of COVID-19. As part of our COVID-19 Compliance Officer services, I have also provided some information about how they can be used effectively.
As I stated in my last blog, the use of technology alone will not win this war, instead you should rely on a layered security approach to prevent the spread of this disease. Having 2 or 3 inexpensive layers is better than a single expensive layer. Have a look at our COVID-19 Return to Work checklist here!
So, without further ado, let’s get into it.
Handheld Thermal Cameras
Handheld thermal cameras are exactly what they say they are: they are a handheld camera that can detect the temperature of exposed skin. These handheld cameras can be deployed in a couple of different ways.
Firstly, they could be used in a static location as a targeted surveillance tool at your entry points. A skilled operator would point the camera at personnel walking into your establishment (one at a time) and would then be able to identify and interdict those with a raised temperature.
Secondly, they can be used as a quick deployment surveillance tool to monitor high risk situations. For example, if an unknown visitor were due to arrive or a delivery was due, you would deploy the handheld device.
Although these handheld devices are good to go out of the box, and do not require any professional installation, they all need to be calibrated correctly and operated by someone who knows what they are doing. Without either it is a complete waste of your money. Also, controlling those that are to be scanned (most devices can only scan one person at a time) and interdicting those with a raised temperature are things you need to carefully plan for.
Static Thermal Cameras
Unlike the handheld cameras, the static cameras require professional installation and calibration. Once installed though, they can accurately discover and track people with a higher body temperature amongst large crowds such as in public areas.
These types of CCTV cameras can be very effective if used correctly. A lot of the newer technology of these cameras now sit with the Network Video Recorder (NVR), meaning that camera functionality can be augmented with an NVR upgrade. For example, new models of NVR now have Artificial Intelligence (AI) with Deep Learning Neural Networks that can assess if anyone is not wearing a facemask, or if people are closer than 2m apart. Although this can sound a bit ‘Big Brothery’, the function is very useful to monitor hot spots where people often break the social distancing guidelines. The area can then be assessed, and measures put in place to ease the congestion.
Again, thermal cameras on their own will not be effective, its what you do with the information that is important. For example, highlighting a person with a raised temperature and not having a process or means of safely interdicting them is a mistake.
Access Control Face Recognition Terminal
This face recognition technology is nothing new, its just been repurposed. Like most technology, it can be used in its basic form or integrated to enhance its abilities.
In its most basic form, it is a standalone terminal that will assess whether the individual stood before it has a raised temperature. If a temperature is identified the machine will raise the alarm- a warning siren if you wish.
If integrated with the access control system, it will recognise whether the user has a raised temperature and will open the door and allow access. If a raised temperate is detected, it will restrict access and raise an alarm (again, a siren if you wish).
If you have facial recognition access control in your facility, the system can also be integrated further. The system will not only assess if the individual has a raised temperature, but also identify if the user is authorised to access the facility.
Newer models will now also assess whether the person is wearing a face mask.
Although strictly not a technology, I thought it worthwhile writing a short paragraph on how these technologies can be integrated.
As technology becomes more interoperable, the way technology is used is moving rapidly but rather than focus on whole range of developments, I’m a just going to point out those developments that are useful in fighting the spread of COVID-19.
We have already mentioned facial recognition, but if integrated with a access control system, it can also be used to contract trace individuals that have come into contact with any suspected or confirmed cases of COVID. Along with a function called appearance search, you will be able to track any individual around a facility or multiple facilities.
Occupancy management is a function that is really useful for larger establishments, where the number of individuals in a facility can be limited and controlled by the access system. In addition, if a onw way system is in place, this can be monitored for any deviances and hotspots identified of any areas that could cause an issue.
As I mentioned, this is a fast moving area, so for the latest up to date information, please get in touch.
Although strictly speaking this technology has not been repurposed, it is doing exactly what it is supposed to do, it is a technology that I have only recently become aware of. The Biofresh Cubo3 unit is a mobile and easy to use, decontamination system for indoor use. It is a small and lightweight portable unit that is ideal for carry between rooms.
The unit uses a two stage operating cycle that creates ozone and then removes it, allowing quick reoccupation of treated areas. The ozone that the unit emits will treat contamination from many sources, including bacteria, fungi and viruses such as SARS-CoV-2. Although the initial outlay can be daunting, the unit will be maintained free of charge if it breaks down.
This unit is ideal for decontaminating high risk areas in the facility such as toilets, meeting areas and delivery locations and receptions.
Wearable tech is nothing new, we often use it in the loner worker scenario. But the tech here has been augmented to help business fight the spread of COVID-19 and get back to work. There are a few on the marketplace at the moment, but most can either be worn around the neck or on the wrist.
The basic concept is that the device will alert the wearer if they come within 2 meters of another user wearing a similar device. If the device is worn on the wrist for example, it will vibrate. Most are easy to deploy and work out of the box with little difficulty.
The devices can also be used for contact tracing. If an employee becomes symptomatic, the company can quickly identify other exposed team members who are at risk.
COVID-19 Surface Testing
The COVID-19 surface test will confirm the presence of COVID-19 on environmental surfaces. You can order the kit online which contains all the materials you need to sample the areas you have chosen to test. Following the step by step instructions, you will take a swab of the areas and return the swab to the laboratory for testing. You will then be able to view your results online within 24 hours.
The surface testing can be used to add additional protection by providing early warning of infection, it can also be used in high risk areas to target cleaning resources as well as validating cleaning procedures. Overall, though, using a surface testing kit will ultimately reduce the risk of infection.
The COVIDRTW is a web based compliance and verification toolkit. It is a platform for the collection and management of COVID-19 related data across an entire organisation. We strongly encourage the use of multiple layers of risk mitigation to combat the spread of COVID-19, and this platform provides a centralised database that provides actionable information.
By using the COVIDRTW platform you can reduce the administrative burden on your organisation.