New thermal cameras now helping scan passengers in Hawaii’s airports

The new cameras have been mounted just above the doors to the jet bridge between the aircraft and the terminal.
Updated: Aug. 5, 2020 at 9:26 PM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - New thermal screening cameras have been installed at Hawaii airports that welcome trans-Pacific travelers to detect anyone who may have a temperature of 100.4 degrees or higher.

The state Department of Transportation said they began operating over the weekend at gates that welcome flights that come from the continental U.S. or other Pacific locations.

The new cameras have been mounted just above the doors to the jet bridge between the aircraft and the terminal.

A video image and an accompanying thermal image are monitored on a video tablet by National Guard personnel.

“The estimated temperature appears over the person’s head,” said Bill Carleton with NEC of America, which developed the system. “And then only if someone exceeds 100.4 degrees, an elevated body temperature, would their image appear at the bottom of the screen.”

The system is replacing manual screenings, in which each passenger had to stop to have someone take their temperature.

“Now that this is involved, people can exit the jet bridge without stopping and continue on, so it’s a more efficient manner of deplaning and exiting the plane,” said state Department of Transportation spokesman Tim Sakahara.

This is the first time NEC has installed this system at an airport, according to Jason Van Sice, NEC’s vice president of recognition systems.

“We have a couple of other installations in the U.S. with some other customers, which is similar in nature, to bring the automation, as well as the safety and security of that automation, at the same time,” he said.

By the end of the year, the cameras will be able to take a snapshot of a passenger with an elevated temperature reading.

“That picture itself will not be shared with anyone outside of the state Department of Transportation, and it’s only going to be kept on record for 30 minutes, and then it will be purged and deleted,” said Sakahara.

The system is being installed at the airports in Lihue, Honolulu, Kahului, Kona and Hilo at a cost of $27 million, plus another $1.4 million a year for maintenance for ten years.

“It is part of the ‘new normal,’” said Sakahara.

It means it will be part of the travel experience to Hawaii, long term.

“Ultimately (it will) make a safer environment and bring tourism and travel back to the state of Hawaii in an effective manner,” said Van Sice.

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