As we move towards the 10 month mark of the world’s most unprecedented health crisis, it’s clear that the COVID-19 virus isn’t going away anytime soon. In fact, the CDC reports that the percentage of people testing positive for the disease, the percentage of visits to doctors due to COVID-related illnesses, and hospitalization rates due to COVID-19 have all increased since September. To add to this urgency, experts fear that the collision of COVID-19 and this season’s influenza virus may result in a “twindemic,” further putting the health of citizens at an even higher risk, which may very well result in another full lockdown.
Since June, there has been an ongoing debate between political leaders about the best practices for reopening the economy and sending our children back to school amid this pandemic, but lack of leadership and confusing online disinformation campaigns have certainly seemed to muddle the situation with more questions than answers, leading to prolonged progress in battling this pandemic. So with national infection rates still sitting way above the acceptable global threshold and U.S. leaders still struggling to come together on a unified strategy to help dissipate the crisis, it’s clear that schools and businesses have to adapt to gain back some semblance of normalcy in their day to day operations. To recap, here are the key guidelines written by the CDC for re-opening educational institutions:
Communicate, educate, and reinforce appropriate hygiene and social distancing practices in ways that are developmentally appropriate for students, teachers, and staff
Develop a proactive plan for when a student or staff member tests positive for COVID-19
Develop a plan with state and local health department to conduct contact tracing in the event of a positive case
Implement multiple mitigation strategies (e.g. social distancing, masks, hand hygiene, etc)
+ many more
Reopening businesses has also come with its own set of similar CDC guidelines, some of which are summarized below:
Updated strategies and recommendations for employers responding to COVID-19, including those seeking to resume normal or phased business operations:
Conducting daily health checks
Conducting a hazard assessment of the workplace
Encouraging employees to wear cloth face coverings in the workplace, if appropriate
Implementing policies and practices for social distancing in the workplace
Improving the building ventilation system
A table outlining the engineering controls, administrative controls, and personal protective equipment (PPE) that employers may use to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace
For most school administrations and business owners, implementing these new rules will require a fair amount of outside help. Enforcing contact tracing and social distancing rules for scores of schoolchildren and employees sounds extremely daunting; can you imagine trying to track the daily movements of thousands of humans without the assistance of some seriously progressive technology? It would pretty much be impossible. Thankfully, schools and businesses can now be outfitted with advanced security camera systems that use AI technology to identify problem instances in real time, and send alerts instantly.
As we’ve previously explored, our Verkada security camera systems come with an array of capabilities that can dramatically increase the safety and well-being of children and teachers. These same features can also be leveraged to protect employees within a place of business, specifically banks, manufacturing facilities, and any other sector that requires a moderate level of security. One camera feature in particular that will be extremely useful to both schools and businesses reopening their doors according to the CDC’s COVID-19 guidelines is Crowd Notifications.
Crowd Notifications deliver real-time alerts when more than a specified number of people are detected in a single camera frame. A threshold can be selected; anywhere from 2-10 people detected in a single frame, which can be customized for each camera. If a camera is pointed at a confined space, and that Crowd Notification threshold was set to 3, and a group of 4 people or more was caught on frame, an alert would be automatically sent via SMS or email, containing a still shot image and link to the live footage. A different camera down the hall that is pointing towards a larger space that can accommodate more people may have a threshold set to 10. This flexibility in function combined with the powerful people detection technology and instant alerts allows school administrators and business owners to proactively monitor their physical spaces for overcrowding. This gives them the power to quickly mitigate risky crowding situations, ultimately keeping health and safety at the forefront of operations.
Crowd Notifications are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Monarch’s cloud-based offerings. These advanced camera systems can be paired with an array of other applications to beef up security and connect operations fully to the cloud: Environmental Sensors to monitor air quality, Access Control to control building access and lockdowns, and even Vibration Monitors to track energy usage and stay on top of equipment issues. All of these capabilities come with the same sleek alert feature, which sends automatic SMS or email messages to the proper personnel when triggered.
There is no doubt that the COVID-19 pandemic has broken down our reality and forced us to adapt to an entirely new world. Although the negative effects of this crisis will be far-reaching for a long time, it’s important to try and see the positive effects that are simultaneously happening. Without darkness, there is no light, right? The changed rules and restrictions this pandemic has forced upon us has forced us to do what humans have been doing for thousands of years: adapt. Our need to adapt quickly to this huge change in our normal routine has forced the creation of advanced technology that otherwise may not have been developed for some time. This technology will allow us to do so much more than just reopen the economy, but for now, it’s important to remain grateful that we are getting some semblance of our normal lives back on track.