18 Jan 2022

Keeping Hospitals Safe During a Global Pandemic

The make-up of a hospital’s security setup has many layers. Access control and video surveillance are key ingredients, alongside additional elements such as duress alarms for staff members, to keep staff, patients, and visitors safe.

Hospitals, in particular, have complex needs for role-based access control. For example, ease of access with controlled entrances is vital to medical crash teams. Still, sensitive areas such as blood banks and drug stores also require a restricted level of access based on hierarchy.

When the COVID-19 pandemic struck in early 2020, it further fueled the levels of security needed in hospitals as it began vital to keep the infection from spreading through its wards and patient rooms.

One such hospital at the frontline of the pandemic was St James hospital in Dublin, Ireland, a 1,000 plus beds building that became central to treating COVID-19 patients in Ireland’s capital city. St James opted to deploy additional screening capabilities alongside its existing access control terminals to keep patients and frontline staff safe from the pandemic threat. 

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At the onset of the pandemic crisis, Vanderbilt’s ACTpro, the access control system in operation at St James, integrated its technology with ZKTeco’s Proface-X-TD Facial Recognition Terminal to add another layer of security to its award-winning solution. St James hospital was an early adaptor of this new integration to address their staff and patients’ unique challenges.

The Proface-X-TD solution uses intelligent engineering facial recognition algorithms and the latest computer vision technology. It supports both facial and palm verification for a fully touchless experience. Coupled with the Proface-X-TD solution, ACTpro can not only grant and restrict access based on biometric functionality but can detect mask-wearing and high temperatures as a means to grant or restrict access to the facility. As a result, better hygiene is achieved with touchless biometric authentication, skin temperature detection, and masked individual identification.

Paul McCarthy, Product Manager at Vanderbilt, outlines the technical strengths of the integration. “Proface-X-TD can read range of 0.6 F / 0.3 C accuracy at 18 inches,” says McCarthy. “The terminals have a straightforward, intuitive interface to set temperature thresholds and collaborate with the environment around it. Protocols can be set to prevent access if a mask isn’t being worn, or if the temperature of the visitor is above the threshold.”

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For instance, if a staff member presents to the door with a high skin temperature, that individual is routed to another location. The door will not open to identify potential infections. The Proface-X-TD solution is also equipped with an anti-spoofing algorithm for facial recognition against almost all types of fake photos and videos.

McCarthy further explains that facial recognition capability has reached a new height in the biometrics technology industry. For example, the Facial Recognition Terminals with Temperature Detection contains a maximum of 30,000 facial templates and up to 5000 palm templates, depending on the model selected, and a recognition speed of fewer than 0.3 seconds per face.

This ability, along with the visitor check-in and tracking processes of the ACTpro access control system, was a critical component in providing real-time data for security officials working at St James.

“Using the ZKTeco terminal with the power of access control from Vanderbilt, St. James hospital is better able to add additional screening procedures to protect patients and other staff members from potential infection exposure,” says Alan Buckley, Operations Manager at St James. “This is crucial in a healthcare environment, where we’re already dealing with a vulnerable population, and protecting them is of the utmost importance — especially during the current pandemic and the added stress this brings to our staff and our patient’s families.”