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Mitie Enters The Red-Hot Thermal Imaging Market

As governments globally start to lift lockdown measures, the strategy to contain COVID-19 is turning to one of better virus detection and widespread testing. One method of COVID-19 detection that is gaining traction with businesses globally is thermal imaging to identify individuals with a high temperature. Fever screening was previously a measure confined to airports in East Asia, but it is now being rolled out by businesses across Europe and the US. For example, retailers such as Whole Foods, owned by Amazon, have begun deploying thermal cameras at worker entrances whilst Bournemouth Airport is trialling cameras at staff entrances with a view to wider implementation in terminals.

In April 2020, Mitie Security launched a thermal imaging service aimed at frontline organizations, such as hospitals, and businesses reopening their workplaces. The cameras come in various forms, ranging from handheld devices to mounted systems designed for use at building entrances. Mitie states that its fever-screening technology, based on measuring infrared radiation, is able to detect human temperatures within an accuracy of 0.3°C. Security firms G4S and SecuriGroup have also begun offering thermal screening functionality as part of their COVID-19 strategy.

Thermal imaging devices can be a valuable tool to help organizations protect public health, especially across food retail, transport hubs and busy city-centre offices. Firms need to review local employment and data privacy laws before rolling out this technology. Several countries in Europe, such as France and the Netherlands, forbid temperature checks whilst Belgium has very restrictive guidelines ensuring no data is processed. Companies looking to implement thermal imaging devices should consult national data protection authority guidelines carefully before making capital decisions.

Businesses should also note that temperature screening is not infallible. The London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine estimates that less than 1 in 5 COVID-infected passengers arriving from long-haul flights are correctly identified at airports, as the onset of symptoms usually takes around five days. Firms should use temperature screening alongside other health monitoring approaches, such as self-reporting of symptoms, to identify COVID-19 cases more effectively.

On top of seeking professional legal counsel, for more information around privacy law guidelines, read our report: Privacy Law During COVID-19: What You Need To Know When Monitoring Employee Health.

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