Author: Jason Allan
Date: 4 February 2021
Prior to 2020 "contact tracing" was an unfamiliar term for most of us. The pandemic of course changed all that, just look at the uprise in searches last year compared to the previous year.
You probably didn't realise this but contact tracing has been around a long time, dating back as far as the bubonic plague outbreak of 1576. Back then there were no QR codes, no smart phones, and no internet, but medical doctors saw the value of manually tracing the spread of a disease even if it was just for research purposes.
Today contact tracing is well regarded as one of the best ways to minimise the spread of a deadly virus, help businesses stay open and ultimately save lives.
Contact tracing is the process of identifying people that may have come in contact with an infected person - in order to have those people tested and isolate for a set period of time - to slow the spread of a contagion.
1. A person is identified as having a communicable disease and this is reported to public health officials.
2. The person is interviewed to learn about their movements, and who they have been in close contact with.
3. Once contacts of an infected person are identified, public health workers make contact to ask questions, offer advice and if required, instruct those contacts to not visit a particular location, like their workplace and or isolate at home.
4. If close contacts cannot be individually identified then public health officials may issue broader communications via the media eg. anyone who attended X location must monitor for symptoms and get tested.
The process seems simple but there are many challenges to effective contact tracing.
Problem: Identifying infected people in good time
Unfortunately in a lot of cases, by the time someone becomes a confirmed case, they have already infected others, making it hard for the contact tracing process to catch up.
This is why speed of diagnosis is so critical for effective contact tracing. This largely falls on the individual to monitor for symptoms and get tested if they are not well so that authorities can notify close contacts and slow the spread.
One major sign of a virus is having a higher than normal temperature, however this is not always noticeable to the person who has the high temperature. This is why many workplaces and indoor venues have adopted things like temperature scanning at the point of entry to prevent potentially ill people from entering and infecting others.
But thermal cameras on their own are not 100% accurate. That's mainly because everyone's average temperature can be different. What's hot for one person might be perfectly normal for another and so on. There are also environmental factors that can influence temperature readings.
Here at Nirovision we believe that a single temperature reading by itself is kind of meaningless without other data to compare it to. That's why our facial recognition software integrates with thermal cameras to capture temperature analytics and match readings against individual identities. This allows our platform to establish whether someone has an elevated temperature from their normal baseline.
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