COVID-19: Protection is out there.

Is there one piece of electronic security technology that could most assist end users in the fight against the relentlessly infectious COVID-19 virus?

It’s hard not to reach out for the COVID-19 silver bullet – a single piece of technology that might save the day. At the same time it’s hard not to wonder if that silver bullet might be rigorous community masking procedures.

From the perspective of what the industry offers, technologies like proximity detection and contact tracing reporting access control modules, IVA-powered proximity detection modules for CCTV systems, temperature measurement solutions, anti-viral (copper) coatings, and rigorous visitor management, are all central to the implementation of effective COVID-19 safe management procedures.

However, according to George Moawad of Genetec, security technology along is unlikely to be the whole answer.

“The founder and CEO of Genetec, Pierre Racz recently noted in an interview recently that technology is not the right answer to the challenges we currently face,” Moawad says. “Instead, Pierre pointed out that systems engineering was the right answer. This means we must be incredibly smart and thoughtful about the way technology is deployed to ensure that any new product development or reengineering of security technologies are applicable to solving real problems.

“We need to adopt combat-engineering stance to meet the challenges at hand. Our CEO has been telling Genetec engineers for years that ‘Process is no substitute for thinking – process is a substitute for communication’, and it has never been more important than it is now for the security industry going forward.”

Over at access control manufacturer, Gallagher, Mike Margrain is reluctant to highlight hands-free, contact tracing or other technologies as being ideal solutions to overcome the challenges of COVID-19.

“There is no single technology to best address the risks during a pandemic,” Margrain says. “However, a good overall solution would encompass temperature and facemask scans, secure mobile access control and touchless biometrics, workforce notifications to door and user devices. Such a solution would include flexible reporting to refer to when required — including contact and proximity tracing. Ultimately, implementing any of the above will improve the safety of a workforce, help demonstrate duty of care, and provide more peace of mind to personnel.”

A COVID-19 safe security and automation system might include analytics for proximity in closed and open spaces, proximity detection for tracing, daily temperature checks, hands-free access and egress, work from home, masking procedures, distancing procedures, extreme hand hygiene, application of protective surfaces and surface coatings, but according to security consultant, Luke Percy-Dove, there’s no magic bullet technologically speaking.

“I am yet to see any viable solutions so far, but a wish list would definitely include hands-free access and egress, people counting and analytics to alert to people congregating,” Percy-Dove explains. “To be honest, if I were to think way outside the box of what would be socially acceptable, perhaps air showers at building entries to decontaminate people before entry could help. But if people do the right thing (masks, distancing, hand hygiene, self-isolating when ill), there is actually very little value that technology can add.”

For Percy-Dove, the best technology application may be the lateral application.

“Thinking further, if there was one piece of technology that might help most it would be around communications,” he explains. “I would promote the use of high-visibility messaging and public announcements over anything else. I believe the current situation demands people do the right thing and anything that helps achieve this should be the priority.”

According to Darren Banks of CRK, most companies understand what they need to do to try and provide a safer environment for employeesand customers, however, he says that financially this may be a challenge for a lot of companies, due to the loss of revenue caused by the COVID-19 outbreak.

“I am not sure you could point to one solution that would assist on the fight against COVID – it needs to be several solutions working together, i.e. people counting, crowd formation, and queue management in the case of access control, facial recognition on entry, touchless egress and facial time and attendance,” he explains.

Consultant Scott Myles agrees with the others that there is no ‘silver bullet’ technologically speaking. Instead he sees technology as offering a way to help people lower the possibility of spreading the virus and to help manage people if they do.

“From a technology approach, I don’t think there is a one size fits all solution, however, if I have to pick one, it would be the ability to reduce the likelihood of spreading the virus through everyday contact, and to have the necessary reports and automation to assist in contact tracing following an identified case,” Myles says.

“From this perspective, system automation, if not already in place, would be my first step following a zero-touch strategy. Ideally in a perfect world you would take every opportunity to develop the necessary treatments following an in-depth analysis with your security professional and continue with best practices in accordance with government guidelines.”