Airport Temperature Screening Systems: Pros and Cons

Published: 10/06/2020 Times Read: 558 Comments : 0


There is still a significant increase in COVID-19 cases worldwide. Governments are implementing efforts to slow the spread of this virus to avoid enforcing lockdown measures and restricting public transportation. One of the most effective steps they’ve already taken is identifying potentially infected individuals in the major transport hubs such as airports. Different countries are taking different approaches - some ask passengers to fill out health declarations, while others ban or quarantine those who visited outbreak zones.

But lots of countries are turning now towards using temperature screening systems since they are far more convenient and efficient for both passengers and workers. A good example of implementing such systems in USA airports is a pilot program of checking travelers’ temperatures at the Los Angeles International Airport - Terminal Wellness Project. There are 3 kinds of thermal cameras at specific places in the airport for screening travelers.

Similar programs have already been used at airports in other countries. For example, Incheon International Airport in Seoul and Heathrow International Airport in London carried a temperature screening experiment in May; Japan airport temperature screening has been in effect since April 2020. We’ve decided to do research and find out whether airport temperature screening equipment is really efficient and worth using. Let’s consider its advantages and drawbacks!

Advantages

Although airport temperature checks have long been controversial, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend screenings as one of several federal health rules to curb the spread of COVID-19. Such a procedure protects both travelers and airport/airline employees.

Protecting employees

During the ongoing pandemic, authorities and business owners must provide lower-risk workplaces for their workers. Airport and airline employees work with hundreds of people a day, so they need double care and protection. Temperature checks before and after a working day is one of the most effective methods to make sure that no one with a fever unknowingly exposes other employees and travelers to the virus.

From this perspective, it would be wise to purchase and install smart kiosks with facial recognition. These machines were engineered to be placed at entrances, checkpoints, and waiting areas. With the built-in face-recognition tool, the kiosks distinguish individuals and can be utilized for employees’ clock-ins. People just have to stop briefly for identification and temperature screening—the procedure takes a few seconds. The smart kiosk then sends notifications to the personnel if an elevated temperature is detected. The reliable quality of the devices paired with a wide range of functions will create a lower-risk environment- and increase confidence among employees.

Protecting passengers

Temperature checks in an airport provide a safer environment and increase public confidence that is crucial for air travel reopening. By the way, body temperature monitoring is also crucial for any business reopening during COVID-19. However, it’s important to choose and buy the right equipment. Fortunately, technological developments have been made, and a ground-breaking device, a thermal camera, has been designed. It makes a perfect airport temperature scanner because the camera not only catches skin temperature but also sees core body temperature (the key metric for fevers), significantly reducing errors in readings. On the one hand, it prevents potentially ill people from entering and/or boarding. On the other hand, healthy individuals with higher skin temperature can board and travel safely.

A thermal camera is meant for mass screenings. It can distinguish up to 30 people at a time and sends alerts once an individual with fever-like symptoms has been identified. Another smart way to secure passengers and combat COVID-19 is a walk-through metal detector with facial recognition. Actually, it’s an improved version of an ordinary security archway. The walk-through metal detector with face recognition is a 3-in-1 solution that checks for metals, identifies individuals, and monitors the temperature. Obviously, it’s must-have airport temperature screening equipment during the Coronavirus break-out.

Disadvantages

Despite the fact that airport temperature checks are an invaluable method to detect potentially ill people and fight the spreading of COVID-19, there are some drawbacks that have to be highlighted.

Human rights violation

Some legal professionals are concerned that human rights can be violated during temperature checks. However, according to common law and airport regulations, data collected through temperature monitoring equipment can’t be received, stored, or used for other goals apart from determined ones. All personal info must be anonymized before recording and safeguarded against revealing or unauthorized use.

Positives with no symptoms

Another reason to worry is that infected individuals can slip through the net. This means that travelers who show normal temperature may still be infected since some diseased people are asymptomatic; however, it’s a rare case. Also, diseased people in the incubation phase are frequently missed by temperature scanners, too, since they might not have a fever or it’s mild. Finally, some individuals can take fever-suppressing medicines and lie about their symptoms.

False positives

Handheld thermometers and thermal readers may not be precise. Most of them measure skin temperature, which can differ from core body temperature. That’s why they sometimes produce false negatives or false positives. However, this disadvantage is easy to prevent by installing more advanced airport temperature screening equipment we’ve touched on above. Even though the cost of such a system will be higher, it’s well worth it.

Final Thoughts

The airport temperature check is a critical measure in meeting today’s challenges of COVID-19. However, only the best devices, targeted in today’s situation, can guarantee fast, accurate, and overall flawless performances. Also, we can’t forget about the World Health Organization recommendations that say we should pair temperature screenings with passenger interviewing, collecting data about passengers’ symptoms, as well as their locations over the past several weeks. Finally, tourists should be inclined to follow good personal hygiene and provided with all the necessary information about the virus. To sum up, proper airport temperature checks along with other essential measures will curb the spread of COVID-19, and we’ll avoid strict lockdown.

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