By: Alex Wasson, Director of Security

Several months of quarantine may have made all of us eager to return to normalcy, but for many businesses, COVID re-entry has proven to be anything but simple. “Business as usual” has given way to special protocols and procedures. 

 

In nearly every workplace, some individuals are frustrated by what they feel are intrusive policies, while others are concerned those same policies don’t go far enough. Business owners must strike a delicate balance between providing a healthy and safe environment for their employees and customers while remaining productive and effective. 

 

From a technology standpoint, it is important to be practical and recognize no single standalone solution that will make a workplace 100% safe. However, with a suite of COVID re-entry solutions, businesses can improve policy compliance outcomes, while offering both employees and customers peace of mind. 

 

Temperature Screening and Mask Detection

In a recent blog post, we discussed thermal imaging’s strengths and limitations as a COVID re-entry solution. While thermal cameras cannot test for a virus’s presence, they are capable of accurately detecting an elevated skin surface temperature.

 

Some manufacturers are producing temperature screening stations that integrate with access control to prevent individuals with elevated temperature readings from entering the building. 

 

Additionally, these stations can detect whether or not an individual is wearing a mask, without identifying them to protect their privacy. Depending on the business’s policy, the station can either provide a reminder or deny entrance to individuals who are not wearing masks.

 

Leveraging Access Control

Access control makes workplaces safer, but the keypad/card reader represents another potential contact point during a viral outbreak. Many businesses are implementing biometric or mobile authentication, reducing the amount of direct physical contact necessary to enter the building to reduce the risk at access control stations. 

However, if an individual with COVID has been in the building, contract tracing immediately becomes a top priority. Contact tracing can be a very inexact science, often relying on faulty memories. Fortunately, access control can provide a crucial assist.

 

For example, Detrios, a building automation software solutions firm, has created a free COVID-19 Exposure Report Tool (CERT). 

 

This software integrates with Avigilon and Lenel access control and allows the employer to enter the affected individual’s badge identifier. The application detects which doors the individual accessed and when, and exports a list of everyone who used the same doors within a given timeframe, providing a clear audit trail. Because the risk of spreading may not be limited simply to direct interaction at the door, the results’ time window can be adjusted accordingly.

 

Policy Compliance Analytics

Most businesses have implemented policies aimed at limiting congregation to prevent exposure. However, these rules can be difficult to enforce, as they often rely on manual reporting, and nobody is walking around making sure that individuals are following social distancing policies.

 

IP-based video surveillance provides a potential solution to this issue, in the form of several new analytics. 

 

In retail or customer service environments, queue management analytics can prevent people from gathering in lines in or outside of stores. People-counting tools can also be used to track and limit the number of individuals inside the store in real-time.

 

Some manufacturers are adapting to the moment and developing crowd gathering and social distancing analytics. These analytics can be used to monitor the number of people in an area as well as how close they are to one another. It provides alerts to the appropriate users if policies are not being followed.

 

Knowing the Landscape is Half the Battle

Many business owners want to do whatever is necessary to protect their employees and customers but are intimidated by the enormous COVID-19 solutions marketplace. Some manufacturers and integrators pitch expensive, unnecessary technologies when cost-effective tools that leverage existing technology would be just as effective.

 

Tech Electronics can help. We know that every business has a unique set of needs, challenges, and budgetary concerns, and our experts can help design a set of solutions that makes sense for you. Contact us today to see what we can do for you.