With the health sector under great pressure in many countries, all avenues are being explored in the quest to reduce the spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19). Across the Middle East, we are seeing video technology increasingly playing an important role in the fight against the virus – from efforts to contain its spread, to solutions that can be deployed in the protection of our frontline responders. So, what are some of these solutions that can support our healthcare workers in these tough times?
Reducing the Spread of the Virus
As Coronavirus cases continue to flourish, so does the need for non-contact temperature measuring equipment. Thermal imaging cameras have for some time been adopted to support high-risk environments such as airports, train stations and immigration checkpoints. Some cameras provide thermal imaging which can quickly identify people with elevated body temperatures, one of the key symptoms of COVID-19.
Now, these technologies are also increasingly put to use in shopping malls, medical facilities and hospitals, providing an additional layer of protection from increased exposure to the coronavirus.
The thermal imaging cameras can instantly visualize temperature differences from a safe distance, identifying those who may be infected. An integrated system raises an alarm when higher temperature readings are reported. By using the systems with thermal or infrared capabilities, health officials can quickly identify, test and isolate unwell individuals to prevent further spread of the disease.
Pros and Cons of Thermal Cameras
Note that thermal body temperature solutions can only support the early identification of a symptom of the disease, they do not diagnose COVID-19. The effectiveness of thermal imaging cameras in public areas may also be impacted by external factors like visual field and target size, environmental temperature, physical exertion, etc.
Privacy concern is another issue that has been raised for this technology, but this is a misconception; the thermal imaging systems are not registering any personal information on individuals.
As an alternative to measuring temperatures manually with handheld devices – which is a time consuming and labor-intensive process – thermal body temperature solutions are a non-invasive and fast method to check body temperatures from a safe distance.
With the introduction of facial detection and AI, the accuracy of temperature scanning can be improved to offset environmental factors. Some thermal cameras can detect temperature differences down to 0,05 degrees and register objects and people even in total darkness at a distance of 100 meters.
The effectiveness of these cameras has led the police in Dubai to test wearing thermal imaging devices on their helmets, enabling a quick temperature scan of any individuals they encounter.
There is also the possibility of further integrating thermal body temperature solutions with video analytics for added health-related functionality. This could be, for example, to check physical distancing and that sanitizing stations are used as specified.
Keeping a Safe Distance
Keeping a physical distance is a key aspect of combatting the coronavirus. When the risk of contagious transmission is high, video technology has proven effective in minimizing contact between infected patients and medical staff. Monitoring patients remotely can save medical staff valuable time and help limit use of protective equipment.
Keeping a continuous eye on all patients, video analytic notifications can be made to register incidents, for example, if a patient has had a fall or is experiencing breathing difficulties. By combining video technology with two-way audio, messages can be given to patients from a safe distance, whether staff or family.
Video technology also helps hospitals manage public access to their facilities. In critical times like these, shortages of medical equipment can make hospitals more prone to thefts. Access control solutions are key in securing restricted areas and preventing unauthorised access.
Drones and robots are also increasingly being used in new ways to secure safe distancing. In situations where direct contact is necessary, robots can serve as middlemen. In cases where unauthorized persons are identified, they can enable security personnel to communicate with the persons from a safe distance. In Dubai drones and robots are used to disinfect streets and buildings at night.
Crowd management systems with the enablement of video technology can be implemented to enforce social distancing to curb the spread of virus. Accurate people-counting solutions using video and contact-less access control systems can play an important role where evacuation is required and help ensure that no one is missed.
With video analytics and forensic tools, systems can be set up to track the movements of individuals across CCTV networks. And by leveraging correlations of IoT devices, systems and intelligent analysis of large amounts of data with artificial intelligence, the spread of the virus can be tracked across societies.
In summary, innovation in video technology is proving to be an important ally in helping to protect the health and safety of people and communities anywhere.
This information is adapted from an article by Haider Muhammad, Community Manager – Middle East, Turkey & Africa, at Milestone Systems, which was published in May 2020 on CXO Insights Middle East.