Have You Considered These Innovative Technologies to Fight COVID-19?

As campuses make preparations for reopening, here are some innovative technology solutions that you might want to consider.

Have You Considered These Innovative Technologies to Fight COVID-19?

Having observed the greatest global pandemic in over 100 years, I feel our lives in many ways have and will be changed for the foreseeable future. However, I also feel strongly that those of us who are electronic security professionals can make a big and positive impact in fighting COVID-19 and similar future pandemics.

As I write this column, society is just starting to reopen from a month(s)-long coronavirus hibernation. Everyone is trying to go back to the way things were. It is one thing for a business to reopen but how will, say a restaurant, give patrons the confidence they need to come back?

How can you continue participating at your local bar and sporting event without becoming infected from the highly-contagious virus? Without this confidence, barely surviving businesses will die on the vine. We may have the security technology expertise and solutions to help these business owners. I would not be surprised if a version of biotech standards are added to existing life-safety building codes.

For many years, there has been a proven technology that has been a death ray to viruses. It is used in hospitals to quickly and conveniently disinfect rooms. This deadly light ray is ultraviolet light (UV).

UV light comes in three categories: UV-A, UV-B and UV-C. The first two we often experience in everyday life — everything from blacklight disco lights to daily sunshine.

However, the secret weapon we are going to focus on is UV-C light, which is often referred to as a germicidal light because of its disinfecting powers. UV-C light contains special properties that deactivate the RNA and DNA of harmful microbes. BEWARE, this light spectrum, especially UV-C, can be deadly to humans if not applied properly.

What is extra special is the discovery of 222nm UV-C light called FAR UV-C. This frequency of UV-C light has shown to not penetrate human skin or eyes yet is still strong enough to kill viruses on surfaces or in the air. Long-term testing is about to wrap up on this technology. So far, the results look very encouraging. My prediction is to expect big things for large public places very soon on FAR UV-C technology.

In an early study of the contagious nature of COVID-19, it was observed that a small restaurant had one asymptomatic COVID-19 person seated. It was later discovered that nine other people had contracted the virus in the restaurant due to airflow from the air conditioning system allowing air droplets to travel further than the social distance of six feet.

These COVID-19 droplets could linger for over an hour in the air. Dr. John Lee, a retired professor of pathology commented, “Every time you exhale asymptomatically, you breathe out 10 million virus particles that can spread on the wind.”

There are two procedures one can consider when applying UV-C light in public areas without endangering humans. The upper-wall method shoots the light high across an area, killing airborne viruses but not impacting humans.

Another technique is placing UV-C light arrays in AC ducts to sterilize returning air. Take a moment to review some ASHRAE Safety Design Guidelines from the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers.

One of the most common contamination points is door handles. To show the creativity of using UV-C sanitation technology, a company called Larson Electronics has created a unit that mounts above a door handle and shines front and back (must avoid shadows) on the handle with two UV-C LED lights.

A motion sensor shuts off the UV-C light to protect someone approaching the door. In the second quarter of 2021, the company plans to release a FAR UV-C door handle unit.

What about using UV-C light in restrooms? It might be okay as long as you protect human exposure. With the proper interlocking safety devices, UV-C light could be applied momentarily when the restroom is NOT occupied.

Configuring safety interlocking systems is a natural talent for most security personnel and integrators. A good example of this technology comes from Boeing and its self-cleaning bathroom for airplanes.

Some other areas in which you can tap your security skills are providing no-touch self-opening doors, no-touch access control and temperature sensing IR cameras.

NEWS FLASH: The government announced it is considering to allow businesses to deduct expenses for COVID-19 safety upgrades. Stay tuned.

Tool of the Month

I must admit this is probably the strangest tool I have ever listed. However, every PPE measure we can take these days is important.

Remember how easily this virus spreads with contact to contaminated surfaces such as door handles, elevator buttons and retail checkouts.

Protect yourself, your family and your customers with a noncontact door opening stylus.

Since 1976, Bob Dolph has served in a variety of technical, training and project management positions with organizations such ADT, Rollins, National Guardian, Lockheed Martin, American Alarm Supply, Sonitrol and Ingersoll Rand. Early in his career, Bob started and operated his own alarm dealership. He has also served as treasurer of the Wisconsin Burglar and Fire Alarm Association and on Security Industry Association (SIA) standards committees. 

This article originally ran in CS sister publication Security Sales & Integration.

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