May 14, 2020 in Guest Blogs, Members by DIACC

OARO: Fighting COVID-19 with Automated Temperature Screening

by Brenan Isabelle, Director, Enterprise Solutions, OARO

As the world is grappling with coronavirus (COVID-19), minds are churning with the desire to come up with innovative ideas. We need solutions, and fast.

Leveraging our OARO ACCESS product line, a physical access control system that uses facial recognition and blockchain identity technology, the team at OARO took a leap forward – offering a technology solution to meet the needs of the current pandemic. 

Mainly used to secure areas in New Brunswick’s Saint John Airport, we have expanded this line to now feature an optional body temperature module for fever screening. A common symptom of COVID-19, up to 80 per cent of individuals suffering from the virus may have a higher than normal temperature, making temperature a critical factor to measure. To enable fully automated detection of elevated body temperatures, OARO has integrated the latest generation of smart thermal cameras with our AI-based facial recognition technology. Additionally, with this solution, physical contact at entry points is also greatly reduced.  

How does temperature screening work?

Involving both a thermal camera and a visual camera, the two video feeds are streamed back to a computer server that uses facial recognition to automate the temperature screening process. Artificial intelligence recognizes faces in the visual video stream, identifying the best place to measure skin temperature, which is near an individual’s inner eye (the tear duct). It is important to note that this is not a diagnosis, it is simply a screening method.

Why temperature screening in the time of COVID-19?

One issue in today’s health sensitive world is that many physical access control systems use either palm or fingerprint readers, which carry the risk of viral transmission. Thus, there has been a shift towards the use of facial recognition and thermal cameras. Our vision at OARO is to have this integrated within access control or video management systems, optimizing it for large enterprises. 

For contactless access control systems, there are two various set-ups: a thermal camera can run automated facial recognition at an entry check-point, and the gate could be configured to open for authorized employees and contractors. Alternatively, smart facial recognition terminals can be installed at doors, and read employee keycards. 

What differentiates OARO’s thermal screening approach from other thermal screening approaches? 

We are striving to move away from having trained operators, with an entirely automatic system that scans multiple faces so people do not have to stop at screening points. 

As with all technologies today, maintaining a responsible approach to privacy by design and data management is key, as is compliance with PIPEDA and Canada’s Privacy Act. If done wrong, this technology has the potential to be quite invasive and “big brother-esque.”

An extremely popular technology today, the current demand for thermal cameras is very high (there is limited inventory across North America)! As businesses are considering this technology, which many are, it is important to remember that, despite being in a pandemic situation, identity and privacy needs must be continually upheld. As many of the current systems were not built on privacy by design principles, our goal was to take a modern, blockchain and cryptographic approach to this, rather than one that is centred on surveillance and big data.  

Learn More about DIACC member initiatives and identity solutions including OARO’s within the COVID-19 Actions Directory, where we are pleased to share the actions taken to address the demands of these extraordinary circumstances.

About the Author: Brenan Isabelle

Brenan is the Director of Enterprise Solutions at OARO. Brenan’s background is in private equity and venture capital investments. Prior to this, he was a strategic and operations consultant at Deloitte — the largest professional services network in the world and a bond trading analyst at Scotia Capital. He holds an MBA in finance from Dalhousie University and a BBA from St. Francis Xavier University. Outside work, Brenan is an expert skydiver with over 3,700 logged parachute jumps.