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How Thermal Imaging is Being Used for Welfare & Temperature Testing During the Pandemic

Jul 16,2020 by Edulab

As lockdown restrictions begin to ease and people spend more time together in confined spaces, it’s important that every necessary precaution is put in place to help prevent the spread of infection.

Adhering to social distancing rules, using hand sanitisers, and wearing face masks makes a difference on a personal level. However, for a more controlled approach with large groups and crowds, companies, schools, and even workplaces have started using thermal imaging technology. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at how thermal imaging is being used for temperature testing and why it can help protect human welfare during the pandemic.

What is Thermal Imaging?

Thermal imaging involves using a thermal imaging device (usually an intelligent camera that can measure a person’s temperature based on infrared radiation) to detect heat and translate that energy into an understandable visual format. Almost everything emits energy in heat form: thermal imaging detects the intensity of that energy and displays it almost instantly.

Thermal imaging can be used to quickly identify sources with a higher-than-normal temperature. This is particularly useful where, in large groups of people, one person can be singled out as a potential concern.

Does Thermal Imaging Help to Control the Spread of Infection?

Although there can be differing symptoms between different COVID-19 carriers, one of the most common signs of infection is a high temperature.

Increased body temperature is usually a tell-tale sign, and in large groups, a thermal imaging device makes it easy to pick out the threat. The person with an unusually high temperature can be removed and advised to follow government procedure. This greatly reduces the risk of spreading the virus between people in workplaces, schools, and many other indoor spaces.

Thermal imaging technology is very accurate, recording to within 0.2°C. It’s a trusted technology and will automatically sound an alarm to monitoring teams when specific temperatures are detected.

How is it Being Used?

In the United Kingdom alone, hundreds of thermal imaging stations are already active. Even sites that are yet to re-open have installed the technology in preparation of increased foot flow and life returning to normal.

In Workplaces

Facilities managers up and down the country are investigating different ways to screen workers before they even enter the building. Amazon is one of the biggest names to have already installed thermal imaging stations: temperatures are analysed before workers can enter warehouses in both the United Kingdom and the United States. Another big name – Jaguar Land Rover – has installed more than 20 cameras at its Solihull site.

But offices are feeling the heat too. Office-based reopening strategies include similar thermal imaging procedures to warehouses and more remote sites. RBS, for instance, has announced that it will use thermal imaging and temperature checks at building entrances, alongside one-way corridors and other safe-working strategies. In some cases, a high temperature will automatically trigger an alarm at the building entrance.

In Schools

Everybody knows how quickly viruses and other infections can spread through schools. Even though it is generally believed that children are not carriers of COVID-19, teachers and other staff members can still be working at risk.

A large number of schools are using thermal imaging stations to ensure that each person entering the building is virus-free. Lakeside School in Liverpool for example, found that thermal imaging helped them send home staff members and visitors showing signs of a fever. It also reduced anxiety, reassuring parents and workers that the school was a safe environment to be in.

This technology can be expensive though for those schools that are on tighter budgets, which is why a good alternative is a welfare testing station that utilises infrared forehead thermometers (temperature guns). They’re simple to deploy and extremely portable, but accuracy of the results taken does depend on how you use the device. E.g. how far it is from the body when measuring, how steadily you hold it and for how long. It can sometimes also be affected by elements like as wind and water.

Other Uses

But on top of workplaces and schools, many other industries have turned to thermal imaging as a way to reliably protect staff and visitors during the reopening process.

The travel industry has been one of the most restricted industries since the beginning of the outbreak. Train stations, airports, and even ferry ports are now installing thermal imaging stations to monitor passenger temperatures. This could be crucial in preventing the spread of the virus among large groups and even overseas.

Hospitals have found themselves at the epicentre of the COVID-19 pandemic, and many are now using thermal imaging to evaluate visitors before they enter hospitals and potentially spread infection. Retail is another industry with high volumes of visitors, and many British stores are turning to thermal imaging as a way to prevent the spread of Coronavirus in High Street shops.

The Future of Thermal Imaging During the Pandemic

As life slowly returns to a new normal, there are several re-opening strategies and screening procedures being put in place throughout the United Kingdom. Thermal imaging technology is one of the most dependable ways to detect a fever within a large group, and it shouldn’t be a surprise to soon see more and more rapid deployment screening stations being used.