When paper-based health screenings were too cumbersome to manage remotely, Wisconsin-based contractor The Boldt Co. turned to a digital solution. Managers now are using facial recognition and temperature scanning from a mounted camera to ensure employees aren’t showing signs of COVID-19 infection.
Office workers for Boldt self-register using a QR code sent to them by the company, then take a selfie that the system uses for facial recognition. As each worker approaches the office, their face is scanned, recognized and tested for a possible elevated temperature before the door to the office unlocks.
The digitial application comes following a policy requiring workers who chose to come into the office or jobsites to fill out a paper form about their recent possible contact history, which then needed to be scanned and filed by someone working remotely. The new facial recognition solution has been rolled out to 12 of the 14 total nationwide offices, according to Dave Much, Boldt’s director of emerging technologies.
Much said the next step is to apply the technology to the company's jobsites and use it for the essential workers who have continued to come to jobsites for the entirety of the pandemic. But for the time being, it's optional for office staff to come into the building.
Still, contractors need to be alert to the best practices are for protecting workers while maintaining their employee's privacy. Much said the Boldt solution uses “anonymous mode,” which measures facial temperature separately from facial recognition, and displays it for the person to see. Additionally, the data is only stored for one week before it is destroyed, he said.
Boldt could possibly use this tech to protect worker health and safety, even once the coronavirus is no longer a nationwide concern. “Even in the fall, these would be very handy to make sure people didn’t come in with the normal flu,” Much said.
COVID-19 catalyst for change via tech
The pandemic has been a catalyst for forcing change via technology, said Much.
“Because we’re using Microsoft Teams, it was seamless for most of our workforce to go home and not worry about connecting to work," he said. According to Much, in the last 90 days Boldt employees nationwide have had:
- 335,224 chat messages
- 15,517 video or telephone meetings
- 17,197 participants in meetings
The firm has also been utilizing OpenSpace, a hard-hat mounted 360-degree camera that takes photographs as workers move through jobsites. Those photos are uploaded and superintendents and other stakeholders can view them and cross reference the images with the plans and BIM, allowing for fewer visits to the jobsite.
All of the new technology is brought about by Boldt’s COVID-19 Task Force, which Much said is made up of 15 workers from across the country who bring different perspectives and concerns. Regular meetings between the task force members help the company flesh out and develop ideas quickly before adoption, he added.