Jeff Hastings, CEO
Throughout the world, organizations of all sorts are grappling with the challenge of safely operating against the backdrop of COVID-19. Retail establishments, restaurants, professional offices, public spaces – they’re all looking for ways to resume operations while mitigating pathogen spread. A basic but all-important precaution of doing so is to screen temperatures upon entry. It’s an effective way to keep unwell people out and help preserve a healthy place of business, though not fool-proof as the virus can spread before folks become symptomatic.
Consequently, a deluge of temperature-screening solutions have emerged, marketed as simple and effective ways to address new health and safety guidelines in the wake of COVID-19. But not all temperature-screening devices are created equal, and it’s important to consider their differences.
Many businesses have started using standard hand-held thermal readers as a way to screen patrons as they enter a business. In some cases, a dedicated receptionist takes temperature readings as people enter, and in some office settings employees are expected to take and record their own temperature readings as they enter. The shortcoming here is quite obvious – any hand-held device becomes a conduit to pathogen spread, particularly in scenarios where people are expected to take their own temperatures. These handheld readers can be used effectively and safely if trained individuals are using medical-grade devices and proper sanitization procedures are implemented, however this method is not a perfect solution since it is labor intensive and prone to human error.
It’s important to understand that each thermal reader has its own set of operational guidelines that must be followed to ensure accurate readings. For example, most hand-held temperature readers are only deemed accurate if the reading is taken within about six inches of a person’s forehead, yet I’ve observed a wide variance in how these devices are used in the field.
Temperature-screening kiosks are becoming quite popular, and it’s easy to understand why. They’re intuitive to use, and many have either integrated or secondary screens that can display operational instructions and real-time feedback as temperature measurements are taken. One shortcoming of these freestanding solutions is that their fixed height can be problematic for some. These devices are designed to work well for average-height adults, yet they don’t lend themselves well to other people – such as children or those in wheelchairs – whose heads don’t naturally align with the height of these kiosks. To address this challenge, one of our partners EonDigital recently introduced ExoMetrics Wrist. As the name implies, the device relies on scanning the wrist instead of the forehead. Not only is this more ergonomically adaptable to a wider range of people, but the temperature measurements are much more accurate than other solutions (more on that below). Another partner, InReality, has teamed up with BrightSign and Legrand to offer a variety of kiosks that can be positioned at various heights.
There’s no need to piece together a temperature-screening solution yourself. Trusted partners have created affordable turn-key solutions that take the guesswork out of what would otherwise be a very complicated purchasing decision. Temperature-screening products are a part of the larger “Safe Space” ecosystem that encompasses the hardware, software and cloud platforms needed to navigate the latest COVID-related health regulations. You want a solution that will work well for your particular circumstance, with the collaboration tools needed to manage through the sea of ever-changing compliance requirements. BrightSign can help you find a trusted technology partner to provide a turn-key solution that meets your needs, and save yourself the headache (and potential risk exposure) of trying to invent it yourself.
Sometimes, we all run a bit hot, whether due to recent exertion or environmental factors such as sun exposure. This can result in false readings whereby a person’s temperature reads much higher than it actually is. The ExoMetrics Wrist solution I mentioned previously addresses this problem by measuring a part of the body that is much less susceptible to artificially elevated temperature readings. The solution even aggregates recent location-specific temperature reading data to identify high-temperature trends that have been affected by local environmental factors. This helps to significantly reduce the likelihood of inaccurately high readings.
To be clear, just about any temperature-screening solution can be effective in certain situations. But it’s important to understand the limitations of each in order to deploy the best solution for a particular environment. Selecting the right temperature-screening solution can reduce pathogen spread in businesses and public spaces, but only if they’re thoughtfully deployed and administered properly.