Key Considerations When Investing in Human Temperature Screening

Consider all aspects of your temperature screaning solution and its effects on your security program, from policies and processes to privacy, compliance, environment and communication.

Key Considerations When Investing in Human Temperature Screening

The world is evolving, and technology is changing with it. Innovations are popping up every day, and technologies that have been around for years are now considered a must-have. One technology in particular that falls into this category is human temperature screening.

Human temperature screening (HTS) and thermal cameras are critical to prepare us moving forward. However, these solutions do come with various requirements and compliance concerns that executives and administrators may fail to consider. You must ask and evaluate how human temperature screening fits into a broader organizational safety policy and security system integration strategy.

The most effective way to answer these questions is to consider all aspects of the solution and its effects on your security program, from policies and processes to privacy, compliance, environment and communication. Here are insights to help you navigate the use of human temperature screening on your campus.

Temperature Screening System Accuracy Can Vary

Human temperature screening can be incredibly effective as part of a broader security strategy. However, the environment and implementation standards play a considerable role in the accuracy of a reading. For example, these solutions should not be deployed for mass surveillance because the environment is typically not controlled based on consistent facial visibility of individuals, standard read range areas, distance to subjects, concentricity of people in the scene, occlusion of subjects, throughput rates and more, depending on the solution.

For greater accuracy, set up a defined area to conduct temperature readings using a pause-and-scan method for one person at a time. Many HTS solutions include a blackbody reference source (recommended by FDA and ISO standards), which is a calibrated temperature source that presents a precise temperature reference to that of the human body. The blackbody creates a baseline for the camera’s reading, and while it’s more accurate, it does require a specific setup and continual maintenance.

An alternative to a black body reference is a solution that uses an average temperature reference based on known subjects with a healthy temperature reading. This is promoted by specific manufacturers as a reduction of failure point and as a means to adjust to changes in the environment and subjects. However, neither solution should be deployed without period checks and management by onsite staff.

When deploying an HTS thermographic camera, be sure to consider:

  • Time for the camera to stabilize to the ambient environment
  • Distance between the camera and the subject for consistent, accurate readings
  • The calibrated position of the blackbody must stay consistent and visible during subject scans
  • If using a tripod, be sure they are not bumped or moved because it will require re-calibration
  • Ensure the camera is positioned at a height that allows proper field of view for scanning of subjects with varied heights

Integrate with a Broader Security Strategy

Any new security device must be integrated into your current overarching security strategy, and HTS solutions are no exception. There must be concrete policies and procedures to guide their use.

Consider these tips for integrating HTS solutions into your plan:

  • Define a workflow that considers each specific use case for the individual and business action
  • Incorporate CDC screening questions to capture persons who are asymptomatic
  • Build a protocol for any individuals who test above the threshold or those who need a second screening measure
  • Clearly define screening processes via signage and messaging
  • Don’t forget about high-risk times of the year, and be prepared to adjust protocols to accommodate
  • Consider implementing an additional screening device within your access control or visitor management system for another layer of protection

A major misconception with this technology is that it’s built to detect COVID-19, which is not the case. These devices cannot address surface spread or asymptomatic individuals, and higher skin temperatures may or may not accurately indicate an illness. Instead, these devices are meant to be part of a broader security strategy that helps mitigate risks. These devices are not a short-term fix but rather a long-term solution in driving organizational change within our new norm.

Keep Compliance Top of Mind

Some of you may know HTS solutions come with specific compliance considerations. Luckily, you can follow certain best practices to keep these top of mind and on track. However, you must have detailed knowledge of the guidelines, specific standards, privacy considerations and regulatory bodies when implementing HTS solutions.

Here are essential facts to keep on hand:

  • Establish an in-depth knowledge of ISO/TR 13154:2017 as a guide when deploying HTS solutions
  • Remember to consult legal before deploying these solutions to ensure you mitigate your potential liabilities
  • Regularly review and follow CDC guidelines to stay up to date with their latest information
  • Be aware of the impacts of EEOC, ADA, HIPAA and FDA regulatory requirements that could affect how you deploy an HTS solution

Remember to Maintain Your System

Just like any other device or system, HTS solutions must undergo periodic maintenance. Create policies to ensure regular accuracy checks and re-calibration measures. Also prepare for the impact of weather, temperature changes, environment changes or any alignment issues you may encounter. Ensure your designated operator is adequately trained and understands the solution’s ins and outs and how to identify and correct potential issues.

What we all thought the future would look like has changed significantly. For the security landscape in particular, new solutions will matter to campuses and people, and others will receive a facelift to take on new challenges and threats. Everything from human temperature screening to contact tracing and access control will be a top priority and critical to the ongoing battle against mitigating current and future risks.

Now that we have experienced a pandemic of global proportions, we see how this has impacted our lives, society and our economy. This will set the tone for our new norm in business as we put into practice safeguards to reduce this same risk to our organizations in the future. It has been somewhat overwhelming to navigate this new normal and ensure safety, while also considering compliance. However, your security integration partners are here to help as we are all in this together.


Rich Mellott is a Director of Technology & Product Management at STANLEY Security, a provider of integrated security solutions. He has more than a decade of experience working in the security space.

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