By Susan E. Campbell
Shepherd Communication & Security, an electronic security and structured wiring integrator, is helping client companies stop coronavirus “at the front door” by offering thermal cameras it says that screen people for elevated body temperature before they step into a business.
“Thermal imaging is a fairly mature technology that came out of the military 45 years ago,” said Richard Ruzzo, managing partner, who founded the company with Robert Guillerault in 2007. “Infrared thermal imaging today has a broad variety of medical applications for screening and diagnosing a patient in real time.”
Ruzzo said elevated body temperature levels (EBT ) are being captured extensively with cameras and scanners by first responders during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“EBT is highly correlated with sickness,” he said. “Identifying individuals with EBT as an early warning can dramatically slow the spread of viruses and infections,” he said.
The temperature reading is a first line of defense, Ruzzo said. Secondarily, there would be actual temperature readings taken and the person would be questioned about their health and symptoms.
Shepherd was already in the business of installing thermal technology for its clients but as a source of surveillance, not as a fever detector, according to Michael Taber, director of business development.
“When the pandemic broke out in China and traveled into Italy, I saw that the virus would hit the U.S.,” Taber said. “I said to Rich Ruzzo, ‘This is worth exploring.’”
Taber and a product engineer began investigating and vetting the different products and applications from around the world.
“A good portion of the equipment out there does not live up to what the manufacturers say,” according to Taber.
Ruzzo said Shepherd Communications identified three or four manufacturers with a supply chain and “price differentials our clients can afford.”
“Our primary goal is education,” said Taber. “We install the products, give the client a basic knowledge, train them how to operate it and give ongoing support so that users can navigate the process of capturing EBT in their buildings.”
According to Ruzzo, detection products can range from a dual lens camera, with a clear view and a thermal view, to a self-standing kiosk with facial recognition that can send an alert if an individual is not wearing a mask.
“The most sophisticated models give a highly accurate body temperature at a rate three times faster than manual readings,” he said. “Some have recording capabilities so that if contact tracking is needed, that information will have been captured.”
Company literature says Shepherd thermal solutions offer more social distancing, higher accuracy of body temperature within 0.3 degrees Celsius, and the capacity to monitor up to 5,000 people in 30 minutes.
“We are in effect protecting the perimeter and enhancing the wellbeing of our clients,” said Ruzzo. “Our company is really about employee health and wellness and confidence building among the workforce and the community at large.”
“SARS, ebola and other viruses have impacted world technology in the past. With the globalization of trade and travel, there will be victims of potentially serious outbreaks in the future,” he said.
“Since 9/11 the population has more of a sense that personal safety, such as at airports and controlled areas, outweighs personal liberty,” he said. “But next time a pandemic happens, we need to get in front of it. Then if employers have a good health screening program in place, everybody can feel comfortable about being around everyone else.”
“By offering a full line of this kind of technology in offices, transportation hubs, schools and other high traffic areas, we are already helping tamp down the curve,” Ruzzo claimed.
He said Shepherd is working with wellness organizations and places like the Times Union Center, Albany International Airport and nanotech facilities to set up secondary screenings.
“The company is designing a mobile cabinet that includes internet and battery back-up so that the thermal imaging product becomes an entire, full-service package with installation, set-up, training and ongoing support,” he said.
Visit www.shepherdcny.com for more information.
By Susan E. Campbell