Using Video Management Systems for a Safe Reopening During the Coronavirus Pandemic

Video Management Systems can integrate temperature and social distancing detection, access control and tracking technologies so your organization can reopen safely.

Using Video Management Systems for a Safe Reopening During the Coronavirus Pandemic

As states reopen in phases and employees return to work, organizations are faced with new challenges beyond security to protect workers, students, patients and visitors during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

With an open platform video management system (VMS), campuses can quickly pivot to create a solution within the framework of their existing security installation. An open platform enables the integration of compatible video management applications and devices needed for returning to work or school, including temperature detection, social distancing detection, touchless access control and tracking technologies.

Temperature Detection

According to the federal government and the CDC, employers should screen and monitor their workforce for indicative coronavirus symptoms, such as an elevated body temperature (EBT). Although no thermal imaging camera can detect or diagnose the coronavirus, thermal cameras can detect indicators for elevated body temperature that provide a data point requiring further evaluation and exploration. Non-contact infrared thermometers also can screen or monitor an individual for potential elevated skin temperatures. However, elevated skin temperature measurements do not reflect an exact body temperature.

When detection occurs through screening, verification is needed. No solutions in the physical security industry are built for this. The recommended process is to send that person through a standard medical assessment process.

For instance, companies such as Walmart and Amazon are now using non-contact infrared thermometers to check employees’ temperatures before they enter facilities. To ensure an accurate reading, General Motors is using medical-grade thermometers to double-check any thermal temperature scans that are above a specified temperature.

A process must be built, adapted for each campus, to ensure they are able to identify those at risk and address that need, along with making sure those within the facility remain safe.

Social Distancing

Using video analytics, organizations can use detection and counting technologies such as people counting and crowd counting to maintain social distancing requirements.

Social distancing is becoming the new norm inside a wide variety of buildings. By leveraging new social distancing technologies, organizations can set specific parameters in their VMS that trigger alarms. To adhere to new occupancy requirements, people counting analytics can provide real-time alerts about how many people are inside a building and create notifications for employees, managers, administrators, clinicians, patients, students, customers and visitors. Crowding can be avoided or at least alerted.

Prior to the coronavirus outbreak, medical staff at Nemours Children’s Hospital in Orlando, Florida would conduct daily patient rounds in the hallways. This allowed a large team of up to 14 allied healthcare professionals and parents to discuss a patient’s condition and coordinate a plan of care. Nemours had deployed fixed network cameras in every patient room to provide an additional level of patient monitoring beyond nurses and clinical staff.

Social distancing led the hospital to use its existing VMS technology to quickly develop innovative care solutions, such as inpatient virtual rounding. According to Healthcare IT News, Nemours quickly revamped patient rounding so that a maximum of three people comprises a “hallway team,” while other members of the care team participate remotely through a mobile app. This new system has helped in saving personal protective equipment (PPE) and reducing direct contact with patients.

Touchless Access Control

According to the CDC, the primary mode of transmission for COVID-19 is through close contact from person-to-person. However, it may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose or possibly their eyes. This is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads, but authorities are still learning more about how it spreads. To proactively keep people safe, facilities can use video surveillance technology to reduce human physical contact with devices and surfaces, including door handles, and card and fingerprint readers.

With an open platform video management system, campuses can easily combine their video surveillance and access systems to deploy touchless access control solutions. The combination of such allows security operators to manage their facility access based on historical statistics or real-time information produced not only by traditional access capabilities, but also by video analytics, such as people counting and social distancing, etc. Using real-time crowd or occupancy data, operators can remotely close or open doors, entry turnstiles or road barriers. To safely monitor buildings or locations, robots and drones equipped with input and output devices can provide live video and bi-directional audio fed back to the video management platform and also accessible to analytic processing.

When access is granted, electronic motorized door opening systems are ideal touchless systems, but other good options include facial recognition systems, QR code scanning via mobile phone or simply using the video management mobile app to open the doors through wireless technologies. Access control systems can also be integrated with facial recognition systems through the VMS platform so that doors may be opened or locked.

Many organizations already have technology in place for hands-free access control. For example, Dick Hannah Dealerships, one of the largest automobile groups in the Pacific Northwest, recently integrated their existing access control system with an open platform video management system. Touchless Bluetooth card readers allow employees to use their smartphones to unlock doors and get card credentials while the video management platform backs up the process with video verification.

With mobile apps, operators can manage video surveillance and access control from one interface not only at their command center desk, but also with a mobile device. While on the move, staff can control outputs like switching lights on and off and granting or denying access control requests, ensuring uninterrupted security operations.

Tracking Technologies

If government health staff conduct contact tracing for an employee who may be suspected or confirmed as having COVID-19, a combined VMS and access control system may aid in the tracking of specific cardholders across all access points in a facility. Facial recognition applications may help to identify people with whom the infected person had close contact. Within minutes, recorded camera footage from all cameras in the system can be scanned using the infected person’s photo.

By leveraging the power of the open platform, employers who have a video management system deployed can protect the health and well-being of their employees while safely getting everyone back to work.

Brad Eck is Milestone Systems‘ community management program owner.

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