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IoT takes aim at social distancing


As many part of the U.S. are at least partially lifting lockdown sanctions prompted by the COVID pandemic, questions about the safety of those moves remain. IoT technology, however, might help alleviate some of those concerns.

The degree to which it’s safe to reopen certain workspaces hinges in large part on how strictly social distancing practices are followed, and IoT technology may have a role to play. Companies like Genetec, a building management and security firm, are rolling out products designed to help businesses manage their facilities during the pandemic.

Genetec’s clearly-labeled Occupancy Management Package leverages the company’s expertise in smart vision technology to track people throughout defined areas of a facility, and keep track of whether any limits on occupancy are being breached.

The system can work with either a standard camera with an optical people-counter module attached to it, or with a dedicated LIDAR sensor. The data is sent via either Ethernet or Wi-Fi over the client’s network to Genetec, which makes it available asa graphical representation of a space’s occupancy data via a web portal. The system can then alert employees if a particular area is overcrowded or distancing rules are being violated. Audit reports can be produced to demonstrate a client’s compliance with applicable public policies.

Another company using cameras to help fight the pandemic is Viper Imaging, which until recently used thermal cameras to track small temperature abnormalities in industrial settings. After a high-speed pivot, the company now says that its cameras can be used to spot people with elevated body temperatures in crowds, providing a screening option for organizations with that need.

Ubigreen’s Smartdesk takes a slightly different tack in its attempt to address social distancing requirements. A small, AAA-battery-powered wall-mount sensor tracks room occupancy via an infrared sensor and reports back its findings via a low-power Sigfox network. Like Genetec’s product, Smartdesk feeds back into a web portal and real-time API that can give at-a-glance occupancy information for a pre-defined area.

Copyright © 2020 IDG Communications, Inc.

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