State kicks off project to install thermal, facial screening tech at airports

Even before mandatory quarantine went into effect, arrivals by air had dropped 87% Location:...
Even before mandatory quarantine went into effect, arrivals by air had dropped 87% Location: DKI Airport / April 20, 2020(jonathan saupe | Jonathan Jared Saupe / Digital Content Creator / Hawaii News Now)
Updated: Jul. 16, 2020 at 4:08 PM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - A $37.5 million project to install thermal screening and facial imaging tech at Hawaii airports in hopes of identifying travelers with fevers will begin this month.

The state said the equipment and installation ― designed to be safer and more cost effective than the manual temperature checks being conducted right now ― will cost $23.3 million.

System maintenance will come in at $1.42 million annually for a decade.

Privacy rights advocates have raised alarms about the facial imaging technology, questioning why it’s needed. The ACLU has urged the state to “hit the brakes” on the program, according to Civil Beat.

But the state has defended the system, saying it temporarily retains the picture of a person with a temperature of a 100.4 degrees or higher in order to help airport officials identify them.

The picture will be erased within 30 minutes and will not be shared, the state said.

“Taking these steps to implement the technology at our airports shows our commitment to providing preventative measures against COVID-19 for the community,” said Gov. David Ige, in a news release.

“We recognize that temperature screening won’t catch every infected passenger, but it is an available tool that can be implemented and combined with the additional measures the state is providing to help prevent the spread of this virus, while helping rebuild the economy.”

The state has selected NEC Corporation, NEC Corporation of America and their partner, Infrared Cameras Inc. to provide the temperature screening and facial imaging technology.

The equipment will be installed at the Daniel K. Inouye International Airport, Kahului Airport, Lihue Airport, Ellison Onizuka Kona International Airport at Keahole and Hilo International Airport.

  • Phase one of the project includes installing temperature scanners this month at gates being used for arriving trans-Pacific flights.
  • In phase two, which will begin in the coming weeks, temperature scanners will be installed at the remaining gates.
  • Phase three will include the installation of facial imaging equipment by Dec. 31.

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