Fri 22 May 2020
How Agora Temperature Screening can help get businesses back on track
The current global situation has changed the way people work – at least for the foreseeable future, maybe even for good. If you’re thinking about the safest ways to help your organization get back to work, once offices and other work spaces start opening up again, then you’ve probably already started considering the part your security team will play.
One of the most effective ways to manage COVID-19 entering your site is to create checkpoints at entrances to take the skin temperature of people coming in. While there are lots of cameras available which detect temperature, there is only one software that integrates with your entire security system to help operators measure, detect and record elevated temperatures: Agora. Pedro Vasco Simoes, IndigoVision CEO, explains how this challenging time has inspired Agora to help businesses provide safe and healthy environments:
COVID-19 is accelerating innovation across all industries and we’ve seen an incredible response from our own industry that is going to make a material difference to the lives of people across the world.We have a key role to play in helping organisations get back on track by creating healthy and safe environments that give employees and customers the confidence to re-start their normal activities. Speed of response, efficiency and the need for intelligent outputs will be greater than ever across a wide range of verticals, so we can expect to see an accelerated roll-out of BI, AI and automated procedures.
Not only does this solution vitally enable temperature screenings of individuals, but it allows you to put in additional business intelligence safeguards, guiding your operator through their responses, based on what the screening data reveals. We spoke to Agora International Business Development Manager, Bernardo Motta, to find out exactly how this new system works – and how it could get your team safely back to work faster.
What will your environment look like when you return to work?
Security teams will need to be prepared to adapt their environments drastically before staff can return to work: employees coming back in will find a very different scene when they enter the site to when they left it. Security will be responsible for new tasks, such as monitoring entry and exit points more closely, setting up one or more checkpoints, and taking temperatures with new equipment.
Security operators may find themselves responsible for:
- Keeping the proximity of people entering the building adhered to, depending on your government/local authority’s guidelines.
- Managing potential staggered arrival and exit times of employees, ensuring everyone enters and exits the building safely across the day.
- Actioning new protocols to deal with people showing up who have an elevated skin temperature.
Bernardo Motta explains that in the beginning, this will feel very new and unfamiliar for both security teams and workers alike, but this is likely to become a regular part of our daily lives we will soon adapt to:
I don't have a crystal ball, but I guess that in half a year or so, we will be used to being screened in every building we go into. We will exit quarantine, but we will be outside in a new world, where you will be screened at the entrance point of everywhere you go.
For those who haven’t had to register temperatures before, Bernardo Motta acknowledges this may be a challenging task and one that will require straightforward tools to aid ease of use:
Most security operators have not been trained to supervise temperature readings at checkpoints before, so this is where human error can slip in. If you’re following step-by-step processes on a screen, however, it eases the pressure and ensures you get it right first time.
Security managers need to ensure their teams are equipped with easy-to-use solutions that won’t become an extra burden on operators who are already facing a lot of changes to their roles. By providing on-screen guidance about the next steps to take in any scenario they’re faced with, Agora arms security guards with the reassurance to perform their job to the best of their ability.
How is Agora different to what competitors are offering?
Some companies are already working with cameras which can contactlessly capture skin temperature. These cameras have been around for quite some time, and security teams may have previous experience with them. But the relevant difference is not in the hardware itself, but in how Agora can guide the security operator through their next actions.
Without the supporting software that Agora offers, there are too many factors which can change day to day, resulting in an inconsistent approach to safety:
- Different security guards may deal differently with a person showing up with a high temperature at a checkpoint.
- Operators may panic or black out in this high-pressured setting and miss part of the essential protocol, putting themselves and others at risk.
- With guidelines changing all the time, an operator may forget what to do next because he is unfamiliar with the new system and may make a mistake.
Bernardo Motta explains more about what sets Agora apart:
If you buy a human temperature screening camera, you just get a camera, and you are on your own as far as your screening procedures go. The camera will give you temperature readings and high temperature alerts, but then what you do with that information next is your problem.
The vast majority of workers and visitors to your site will display ‘normal temperatures’ at the checkpoint. But for those who don’t, you’ll need to be able to act quickly and safely, and apply a consistent, repeatable process. In times like these, processes are essential: the ability to offer the same protocol, no matter what the circumstances, could be the difference between allowing someone with COVID-19 into your workspace, or not.
This means the process of “getting to work” will take a lot longer than previously for many people, but Bernardo Motta warns security managers not to be caught out by solutions offering short cuts – screening will, and must, take as long as it takes:
Some companies might promote that their cameras can catch a five-meter span or 10-meter span, or their camera can scan multiple people at once, or even perform well in outdoor scenarios. This is the wrong way to do temperature screenings.Although the camera could work in some of those cases, the screening process has to be indoors and one person at a time. For improved accuracy, it is recommended the subject removes glasses and looks directly into the lens of the camera. This will ensure reduced margin for error, and that the screening device is operated in the best possible conditions.
If you’re going to the effort of setting up checkpoints, equipping your team with new tools, and trying to return your site to normal, then you need to screen people individually, giving the task the time and safety it deserves.
What Agora looks like in practice
So how does Agora’s solution work?
Agora is a brand-agnostic command & control software that integrates with video surveillance, access control, alarm panels, IP intercoms, and other security and safety devices. In a single screen, you can monitor all of your security and safety systems, making it far easier to react to alerts and giving you greater visibility of your entire environment. Plus, whenever an incident occurs, you can program your system to walk the operator through a series of actions to find a resolution.
Instead of offering rigid workflows for managing different types of incidents, Agora treats each end-user as a distinctive and individual organization, as Bernardo Motta, explains:
We know that a university will be very different from a public school, which will be different again from the headquarters of Google. Each company will have its own processes and workflows that need to be followed by the team.
These customizable workflows are simple to adapt, and this means your own specific COVID-19 policies can be deployed and actioned. Some of the reasons Agora could be an essential part of your back-to-work program are:
- The ease with which different organizations can write and periodically update their standard operating procedures.
- How different people entering your site – workers, visitors and suppliers – can be handled differently by the security team, by showing the operators a custom set of instructions for each case.
- The way Agora stores data and creates reports from the temperatures you collect. So if management has questions about effectiveness, patterns or key at-risk entrances, they can easily find out this information.
- Security operators can either operate Agora from a reception desk (with a stand-alone single temperature-screening camera) or from the security control room (through multiple temperature-screening cameras).
There are three important pieces you will need:
1. A thermal camera
- This is going to produce a thermal image in which people appear with their skin temperatures differentiated.
- A rule is configured on the camera to send out an alarm when a person shows a skin temperature higher than the pre-configured threshold.
- The thermal camera also offers a 2MP optical lens to provide an optical stream which is also capable of displaying the temperature readings.
2. A black body
- This is a heat radiation device which looks like a small black box.
- The device can be set to a particular reference temperature, then the person stands beside it, while the thermal camera films both the person and the black body.
- The thermal camera uses the black body's temperature as a reference point when estimating the person’s temperature.
3. The Agora software
- The Agora software will be factory installed, either in a Rackmount Server machine (for projects with multiple thermal cameras) or in a Workstation (for single-camera projects).
On their screen, the security operator can follow the guidance workflow, whether to let the person pass, or whether to take precautionary action to prevent them entering. The key thing here is that you can break these steps down to apply to different groups of people at your organization, who will have different roles and intentions. Bernardo Motta explains how you deploy this practice:
If someone’s temperature is elevated, what type of person are we talking about? Is it an employee, a customer, a service provider? And then, depending on the answer, you will define the workflow to deal with each case.
For an employee, there may be a wellbeing provision covered in their contract to ensure they receive a certain type of care from you. Whereas, for a supplier dropping off products, you might be able to ask them to leave the premises quickly and safely. The ability to make the procedures tailored and specific to your organization’s needs, makes Agora the most practical, and attention-focused solution for your business.
Who will benefit from Agora Temperature Screening?
If you’re trying to help get your workforce back to their jobs as safely as possible, Agora Temperature Screening is the solution for you. SMEs and large enterprises alike who are trying to get back on their feet – once local governments say they can do so – will benefit from the Agora software, because of its adaptability to any sector, business size and safety requirements.
If you’re likely to be asked to provide evidence of the steps you’re taking to provide a safe environment for workers, providers or customers, then Agora offers reports to show compliance with pre-established guidelines and analytics to help you review progress, and improve your safety standards. Bernardo Motta explains how Agora helps you create important records at this time:
Our web-based solution is easy to use. Agora has the ability to create graphs and charts with temperature statistics, like the number of measurements taken, and the number of people who came out with high temperatures. The process and the data combined together makes this a key business intelligence tool.
Those who will benefit most from Agora’s solution are:
- Organizations who already have good security hardware but want the extra layer of custom-standard operating procedures in place at a time when being thorough means everything.
- Countries where the government’s advice is quickly changing so you need to constantly adapt your processes.
- Companies who need to show data/reports on the steps they’re taking to protect their sites.
- Anyone with different members of security staff performing the same job, enabling a consistent approach in these unprecedented times.
We know that official guidelines are constantly changing: you might configure Agora on Monday, only to find that by Wednesday, you need to add a new check to your process. With just a few clicks, Agora is updated and ready for the whole team to use. Bernardo Motta explains how you can meet compliance standards with Agora:
Because our software can be adapted quickly by the head of security, they can look at the latest recommendations and make suitable updates with a few clicks of a button. They could even have the latest government bulletin open in a separate window and do a one-to-one match with their configured procedures in Agora.
We hope we can help you and your colleagues get back to work and stay safe at this unprecedented time, reducing risk to everyone who comes in and out of your environment. It cannot be overstated how vital the role of security teams is – and during this pandemic that role is more important than ever. Make sure your team has the tools to do their job to the best of their ability.