Thermal scanning devices must be TGA approved - worth noting most currently available consumer digital thermometers don't meet this standard.

WHEN it comes to COVID-19 management everything is now on the table. Security solutions, including proximity detection and reporting access control modules, proximity detection modules and solutions for CCTV, as well as more rigorous COVID-19 management procedures – including mandatory masks – hands-free access control entry and exit solutions, and anti-viral strategies of every kind should be used wherever and however possible.

Despite the fact BTM solutions have collided with government regulations, regular temperature taking is important. Staff who can still work during lockdown – that includes most of the electronic security industry – should be taking temperatures every morning before work. How this is handled on site is a matter for individual organisations. Something else to consider is how systems are managed. More than ever, end users and service providers, too, need solutions that are automated, offer remote access, are reliable and deliver situational awareness in digestible forms.
According to Mike Margrain national technical account manager, Gallagher provides multiple solutions to assist with the operation of a COVID-safe workplace.

“The pandemic has created increased interest in compliance, reporting, and notification related features which we have had proven solutions for over many years—particularly through strengths in the government and mining and resources verticals,” Margrain says.

“This wide feature set in Gallagher Command Centre includes the ability for mobile access control, including door override actions, and touchless biometrics. Integration with temperature and facemask detection devices within the access decision are supported, with the ability to apply results from 1 detection device into decisions on other doors for a configured length of time.

“Given the intelligence in our devices, we support custom screen messaging and notifications to alert users of the need to perform tests and advise of other conditions of entry. Notifications can be sent to users to advise a need for re-testing, why access may have been denied, or simply to broadcast mass alerts or helpful information to a workforce. These can be sent via e-mail, SMS, and via free push notifications to registered mobile devices.”

According to Margrain, Gallagher’s free Proximity and Contact Tracing Report provides sites with a tool to identify potential contact a suspected COVID patient may have had with others—including the time they spent in an area together.

“This report also supports the concept of ‘generation’ to allow filtering where people who came in contact with an ‘origin’ may have then come in contact with others,” he explains. “Report filters support time spent thresholds and the contact layers to follow, among others. These results can be used to send out notifications to those people who may have been in contact with someone (to perhaps recommend quarantine or testing), or conversely contact those who the system shows were not in common areas at the same time—particularly useful if there were concerned workers.

“Meanwhile, Live Zone Location monitoring allows dashboards to be created in our Command Centre client for visibility of where anyone is at a given time, as well as also being supported in our Command Centre Mobile smartphone client for iOS and Android. The system allows automatic assignment of workspaces to cardholders in hot-desking scenarios with associated reporting to identify which cardholder was at a given space at a point in the past.

“This includes the ability to then identify others who may have been working in that area on the given day. This reporting mechanism proves very useful when people are moving around larger work areas but create a higher potential risk to those in neighbouring cubicles.”

What are the key challenges suppliers and integrators need to overcome to help customers get through the COVID crises, in Margrain’s opinion?

“We have seen customers with a need to solve problems to improve their workplace to manage COVID, come to us to assist with solutions,” he says. “The adage of ‘where there’s a will, there’s a way’ has been true with Gallagher Command Centre — through use of existing features that can simply be configured to suit the requirement. The exception to this was the Contact and Proximity Tracing report, which we developed quickly and made available in market. This was an initiative we moved on and provided at zero cost to all users running any version going back 2 years.

“A good recommendation to end-users here is to reach out to your integrator when you have a business problem you need to solve. It may very well be that a solution is very much so in reach with your existing installation. Gallagher strives to build products that create safe and secure environments to work and play in—and if the product cannot do it today, we will always work with you to build something as required.”

If there is one piece of technology you think could most assist the fight, what would it be? Hands-free, contact tracing, something else?

Though he says 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 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. “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. If people do the right thing (masks, distancing, hand hygiene, self-isolating when ill), there is actually very little value that technology can add.”

How important is it for security integrators to wrap their heads around liberating automation, remote management, mobile functionalities and zero-touch solutions during the COVID crisis in Percy-Dove’s opinion?

“It’s very important, particularly with many staff working from home and the restrictions on travel,” he says. “Staff will be exposed to more risk than ever while working on client properties. The more time they spend working outside the home, the greater the chance of becoming infected. It’s in everyone’s interests to minimise on-site work where possible. Also, integrators need to know where to get some quick wins for their clients, so knowledge around things like zero-touch egress devices is important too.”

What are the key challenges we need to overcome to help customers get through the COVID crises, in Percy-Dove’s opinion?

“The key challenge I see is overcoming the “we have always done it this way” approach to security and risk,” he says. “Covid-19 has thrown business a curve ball nobody could ever have predicted. We need to appreciate that we have to do things differently now because so much has changed.”

Over at C.R. Kennedy, Darren Banks views a COVID-19 safe security and automation system as a composite of multiple technologies and procedures.

“Based on discussions with customers it is apparent that they’re definitely interest in products that remove the need for touch,” Banks says. “We have had interest in touchless egress, facial recognition for both access control and time in attendance solutions as for CCTV applications. With the deep learning and AI capabilities available in the market today there is the potential for people counting solutions that count both entry and exit removing the need for an individual to manually count which can lead to errors and potential exposure.

“There are also the analytics available that can detect crowd formation and loiter, however, the problem faced with deploying this technology is someone physically has to monitor it and be capable of taking the appropriate action. C R Kennedy has products that provide all the above.”

Does CRK have a solution that fit into an overall COVID-safe workplace and how does it slot into an existing security solution?

“Our Dahua and UNV access control terminals have the capability of facial recognition and are designed as access control points that can be integrated into existing access control solutions, however, there may be some additional software development required depending on the integration required by the customer,” says Banks.

“Both the Dahua and UNV terminals can process the facial recognition solution on the device and provide outputs to the existing access control solution, however, this would be a low level interface with little control from the access control head end. C.R. Kennedy has the Dahua AI solution that can be programmed for people counting solutions and crowd formation to manage distancing and authentication.”

According to Banks, most companies understand what they need to do to try and provide a safer environment for employees and 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.

Scott Myles of security consultancy, ICS Group, says that with the Coronavirus pandemic resulting in shared buildings and public places becoming high-risk environments for the spread of this disease, electronic security designers soon realised a fresh look at the way they designed solutions was needed.

“The shifting of our client’s goals to a greater emphasis on the health and wellbeing of staff, customers and the general public, as well as the protection of assets, has seen technology play a vital role in addressing the challenges as a community that we all now face,” Myles explains.

“In meeting the challenge and addressing the individual needs of clients, our design strategies rely on all the tools we have available to us as we continually work outside the traditional system design box. This has seen enormous cooperation from the industry in our design workshops. More than ever we have seen system automation and AI working together with organisational policies and procedures to mitigate against the spread of COVID and protect people.”

According to Myles, as security consultants, ICS Group has a responsibility to its clients to take an holistic approach to COVID-19 crisis and ensure solutions do not become part of the problem.

“As it is with all risks, elimination of the source may sometimes be the safest option, however, as designers of electronic security, we believe that technology will play a vital role in meeting this challenge,” Myles explains.

“Clearly, any designs and recommendations first take into consideration the existing infrastructure, the site-specific operational factors and identified risks and we back fill from there. So, moving forward, in the first instance we encourage a zero-touch design strategy to allow our clients to navigate and access their facility or place of work with as little contact as possible – for instance, without needing to touch doors, readers, intercoms, lift call buttons, etc, while still maintaining the same level of secure control.

“Next is to look at contact tracing, and this is where the automation between systems such as CCTV and EACS can deliver positive outcomes. For example, in the event of a reported COVID case, through the generation of post-event functionalities of the EACS solution and report generation, can assist in pin pointing the locations of the doors and possible contacts that the diagnosed person had at the facility, and with the automated footage being easily available, allows the contact tracing team to easily identify other persons that may have been in contact with the infected person.

“As well as assisting in contact tracing, knowing high traffic areas is also useful in identifying the areas in most need of regular cleaning, with reports and alerts allowing operators to programme the necessary scheduling, reducing frequency on low use doors and areas and increasing the frequency where required.”

Myles says that although the integration of EACS with CCTV can assist in controlled workplace environments, it is not the case when it comes to public spaces such as shopping malls, where infected persons are not required to pass through any control point.

“These circumstances are where video facial recognition can assist with contact tracing,” he explains. “There are many solutions on the market that offer post-event facial recognition, and once the subject is identified, the solution has the ability to track the individual on other cameras through a facility. This makes it dependant on the existing solution and infrastructure, but it may be possible to simply add a third party analytic or activate such a feature within the camera.”

According to Myles, getting the basics right when it comes to COVID-19 procedures is a baseline.

“Getting back to prevention and detection, adopting the government recommendations of social distancing, hand hygiene, mask wearing and not coming to work or going out publicly when having symptoms is essential to the control of the disease,” he says. “This forms the basis of our non-technical strategies and recommendations of having available hand sanitizers, screens to protect staff and suitable signage that supports public awareness.

“However, technology can play a role in certain circumstances, through video analytics, such as area crowding and people counting, which provide a useful tool for generating alerts within monitored solutions. Also valuable is the activation of in-the-field voice or digital signage annunciation to help manage behaviour when there is a breach with social distancing. Although proximity and crowding analytic is subjective to the camera angle and field of view, we have found that dedicated real-time people counting treatments and alerts provide a front-line defence against overcrowding.”

What about body temperature measurement solutions?

“When it comes to temperature (thermal cameras) detection, we take a conservative approach with the deployment of such technologies, as in our opinion it is too early to make a call on the effectiveness due to the many claims and counter claims of the (so called) experts, and a flood of products on the market,” Myles says. “From our understanding, there are many examples of asymptomatic cases of COVID-19, and examples of false triggers from these thermal devices that from a control mechanism, pose an element of risk.

“However, in controlled situations, such as hospitals and airports, this technology (if it meets required government regulations and is certified), provides another tool available for operators as an early warning detection in some circumstances. Although our opinion is inconclusive, one should not discount the deterrent effect that this technology may have on ill people moving around protected spaces.”

How important is it for security integrators to wrap their heads around liberating automation, remote management, mobile functionalities and zero-touch solutions during the COVID crisis?

“It has been my experience that as an industry, we often miss the opportunity of realising the benefits of automated and integrated solutions, where moving forward analytics can play a more realistic and positive role,” Myles says. “Although for integrators it is vitally important that they have the understanding, support and skills to be able to embrace the challenges of zero-touch and solutions to assist in addressing the issues faced with this pandemic, ultimately, it is the clients’ decision. They must employ system designers and consultants that have the necessary skills to identify risks and deliver necessary solutions. In my experience from an integrator’s perspective, except for design and construction, integrators are delivering to a defined scope with little opportunity of deviation.”

What are the key challenges we need to overcome to help customers get through the COVID crises, in Myles’ opinion?

“In this economically challenged environment, with many organisation suffering from a downturn of productivity and decreased revenues, one of the biggest challenges organisations face is available capitals or corporate appetite to invest in these technologies and strategies that will ultimately assist as we start opening up and getting back to business prior to having a vaccine,” says Myles.

Authentication by facial recognition concept. Biometric admittance control device for security system. Asian man using face scanner to unlock glass door in office building.

According to George Moawad, the ideal COVID-19 safe solution would be a solution that is always evolving and agile first and foremost, because the challenges faced are changing on a daily or weekly basis.

“The single pane of glass ideal has never been more relevant,” Moawad says. “We are asking our security officer and healthcare professionals to not only handle more but also undertake new and complex processes, so giving them all the info on a tablet or mobile device while they put themselves in the front line and harm’s way is a priority.

“Next is taking the emotion out of this ‘new way of doing things’. As we have seen in the press, there are many very emotional situations arising. Consequently, the ability to guide front line personnel through step-by-step prompts helps them not only remember the new way of doing things, but also if they are confronted with a heated situation of non-mask wearing or high temperature reading, how to deal with it safely as well as legally as they can be led by prompts from the system.

“Going back to that single pane of glass, having all these new sensors unified will help give true and legitimate information to the building personnel. By combing people counting occupancy married with access control data, crowd density as well as proximity information from the access control logs, thermal temperature reading from connected thermal CCTV devices, organisations can get a 360 and informed view.”

According to Moawad, all of Genetec’s COVID-19 related innovations have been developed to work with client’s existing security solution, notably:

* A free Contagion/Contaminant Proximity Report for Genetec Security Center Synergis access control customers in response to COVID-19. This report helps organisations find all the people who went through a door near someone thought to be contagious.

* A new Occupancy Management package which leverages inbuilt KiwiVision People Counter video analytics and Security Center Live Dashboards to visualise occupancy in real time. This helps organisations operate within local guidelines for occupancy density by counting the number of people in a store or business, visualising the data and sending alerts to employees when occupancy limits are reached.

* A new Virtual in-patient hospital rounds solution which allows medical staff to speak with and see patients without entering a room, which in turn optimises the use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). It leverages Sipelia intercom communications with Security Center to enable two-way conversations.

* Healthcare PPE access control and self-service portal. Genetec customers can now use Security Center Synergis and wireless padlocks to restrict access to PPE and use Genetec Self Service Kiosk to check out PPE equipment.

* AutoVu LPR solutions can also be used for tracking vehicle occupancy in a parking lot or can track specific vehicles in a wider geographic area.

* Genetec is also in the process of testing thermal cameras and working to extend capabilities within the Security Center platform.

Moawad says it’s vital integrators wrap their heads around liberating automation, remote management, mobile functionalities and zero-touch solutions during the COVID crisis.

“This is extremely important,” he says. “Touchless and frictionless solutions have never been more critical, so security integrators need to ensure they get up to speed as soon as possible. Security is going to play a major role in shaping new systems, policies and procedures for businesses – it’s also an opportunity for them to take a seat at the board room table.

“Genetec has always encouraged collaborative work with our customers to better understand and address their needs. Customer requests push us to innovate and find new solutions to existing and new challenges. We continue to encourage this dialogue to stimulate the innovations needed to face COVID-19 challenges, in the short-term and long term. It’s important for us to create software solutions that build upon and support the growth of our customers, address today’s reality, and prepare for the future with scalable solutions not only quick fixes to the problem of the day.”