The age of Covid-19 has brought about a host of new requirements that will play critical roles for countries, cities, and businesses as they reopen as part of a new normal. 

As such, IoT and mobile apps will take on increasingly important roles as part of technology solutions that monitor and regulate the movement of people, vehicles and assets to ensure public safety. Additionally, solutions that address personal and health tracking will be in high demand as the pandemic is expected to be a part of our lives for the coming years.

We’ve already seen the explosive increase in remote applications that can address virtually every aspect of society (hello Zoom), but as the world begins to open back up cities, businesses and employers are looking at multiple solutions to assure individuals feel safe where they live, work and shop.

It is likely that some form of social distancing will remain a part of our daily lives for the foreseeable future. To help make sure people are in compliance, a number of companies have developed solutions to make it easier to regulate and enforce these rules.

Fever screening / temperature detection

To date, a person’s temperature remains the most important indicator for screening and detecting infected people. Connected thermometers have allowed data to be aggregated to illustrate current local and national trends. But what about the enterprise environment?

A few examples:

Ramco Systems has introduced its RamcoGEEK – a touchless facial recognition-based time and attendance system that includes temperature recording via thermal imaging technology. The system will detect and match the faces of staff or visitors and mark their attendance with temperature range as “normal,” “above normal,” “high temperature,” etc. The system integrates with IoT based sliding doors, turnstiles, kiosks for a touchless employee experience and provides the ability to allow/observe/restrict access to staff or visitors based on temperature range and auto-apply company policies (including leave, recommend testing etc.) on behalf of the organization; including the ability to facilitate contact-tracing if required.

For high volume locations such as airports, public transit, schools, arenas, etc., it makes more sense to use a solution that provides continuous, fast-screening, real-time monitoring. Pensees AI has introduced the Intelligent Non-contact Body Temperature Monitoring System that includes intelligent facial recognition access with an integrated temperature screening module (a portable system is also available). The system enables non-contact body temperature measurement, real-time calibration of temperature sensor, automatic alert of persons with fever, temperature record synchronization to a cloud platform and more. The system is able to perform non-contact temperature measurements within three meters with a measurement error of no more than 0.3°C for up to 165 targets. If abnormal body temperature is detected, it will issue a real-time alert in the form of voice messages, lighting, etc. 

Another example is Vodafone UK. In collaboration with surveillance company Digital Barriers, their IoT-enabled thermal camera can track the temperatures of up to eight people at a time and 100 individuals per minute. The heat-sensing camera system has a range of one to five meters depending on the environment. It accurately screens temperature to within +/- 0.3°C

The downside to these types of systems are two-fold. First due to environmental conditions their application is primarily for indoor use – which defeats its usage in many train stations, stadiums, etc. Secondly, a person’s temperature can go up for lots of reasons — exercise or overeating; stress or excitement; the flu, or just a hot room — limiting the device’s effectiveness in determining whether someone has fallen ill. And an infection does not always give someone a high temperature either: Workers can spread the virus without having a fever and while feeling perfectly fine.

SenseGiz has built an IoT-based People Tracking & Historic Contact tracing solution for manufacturing and IT companies, in which employees can be tracked in any factory/office environment in real time. The solution offers detailed historical contact tracing capabilities in case any employee comes in proximity with another employee who may be later diagnosed as being Covid-19 positive. The solution can also help to enforce social distancing and prevent overcrowding as well as support geo-fencing for specified areas and people.

Big Brother is indeed watching … and counting, based on the number of new people tracking solutions entering the market.

Contactless payment

One area that will likely see the most growth will be related to contactless payment. With curbside pickup and to-go services on the increase, the need to minimize contact has taken on a new meaning. While the concept of contactless payment has been around since the 90s, the introduction QR codes, NFC, and Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) has allowed for expanded usage.

Going forward, it will be necessary to for businesses to offer a safe, reliable and seamless payment experience for customers. This introduces the next iteration of contactless payment with its integration with the IoT industry, known as the internet of payments (IoP).

IoP will eliminate the need for a physical card and allow “things” such as watches, automobiles, appliances, etc. to become platforms for commerce. This will require ‘tokenization” for enabling payments on devices. In simplistic terms, your account number on your card will be turned into a digital credential that can be provisioned on a device.

Referred to a frictionless experience – the consumer will not be required to initiate the payment – your smart device will handle all of that. You would simply show up, pick up, take out, etc. with the transaction handled seamlessly on your device.

While this concept sounds great, the network to support it is still getting started. But with the current global pandemic, the likelihood of acceleration to make this happen is high.

Conclusion

The key word to describe the “new normal” will be contactless. This will allow an expanded opportunity for IoT solutions in support of public health and safety. Solutions such as temperature-scanning systems will become an essential part of public life, following after metal detectors and security pat-downs. It is expected that these systems will be found not only at airports and arenas but workplaces, schools, housing complexes and anywhere else where people gather en masse. 

While privacy concerns will remain on high alert, the need for public safety will likely overrule most objections. However, there remains great concerns with respect to access to data. Who has access to it? How long will it be held? And unfortunately, you will be required to consent to these future practices anytime you purchase a ticket to a flight, a concern, a sporting event, etc. 

Big Brother is indeed watching.