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Kahului Airport Completes Phase Of Thermal Screening Program

thermal_screening_rfinnerty.jpg
Ryan Finnerty/HPR
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FILE -- Thermal scanning equipment is demonstrated at Daniel K. Inouye International Airport.

KAHULUI, Hawaii — Kahului Airport on Maui has completed the second phase of its thermal screening project meant to combat the spread of the coronavirus.

The screening uses thermal imaging and facial recognition technology to pinpoint people with a temperature of 100.4 degrees (38 Celsius) or higher.

Dual lens cameras have been installed at all arrival gates and TSA checkpoints in the airport.

When phase three is completed, the cameras will be able to track travelers with high body temperatures so contact tracers can stop and screen them before they leave the airport, The Maui News reported.

Maui Airports District Manager Marvin Moniz says he expects phase three to be completed before the end of the year.

The technology is being implemented at all five of Hawaii's main airports.

In response to growing privacy concerns, Moniz said the images are erased every 30 minutes. There are also signs throughout the airport that alert travelers about the thermal screening cameras.

“It’s not recorded, it’s just like a queue,” said Maui District Assistant Airport Superintendent Larry Miller. “It’s not permanently stored.”

Moniz said the airport is using the system to flag people, even before the third phase starts. He said personnel from the American Medical Response and the Kahului Airport Aircraft Rescue and Fire Fighting Unit are currently tasked with testing passengers who are flagged for high temperatures.

“If you have a temperature of 100.4, a tracker or tracer will pull you aside,” Moniz said. “They check out the individual and consult with the Department of Health to determine what the next step is for that passenger.”

He said those who have been flagged so far using the cameras include a person who had a kidney infection and another with an ear infection.

For now, each camera is connected to an iPad, where an operator monitors the images and makes decisions on which passengers need testing.

Phase three will make the technology more sophisticated. It involves the construction of a control room where two employees from the state Department of Health will monitor the camera feeds and are positioned to stop and question passengers with high temperatures.

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