Reopening sports and entertainment venues will require new technology and represent a long lasting investment
The sports and entertainment industry conjures images of crowds packed tightly together – a notion that for many of us feels like a distant past. Yet as COVID-related restrictions are lifted and businesses are adjusting to a new normal, new technologies are emerging that advance the digital transformation and ensure consumers and employees are armed with the proper precautions. And while some of these solutions seem temporary, the reality is that many represent an investment in the sports and entertainment industry of tomorrow – an investment that consumers and businesses alike will benefit from.
Assessing the body temperature of customers upon their entry has become a widely used method to initially assess the potential health risk they may pose. When used as part of a larger approach to risk management, thermal imaging is a great way to assess attendees arriving to venues like stadiums and arenas where large groups of people will require screening. Additionally, employers are now permitted to take the temperature of their employees, which can help to mitigate the spread of illnesses as staff members interact with each other and welcome guests to the venue.
Since thermal imaging systems are non-contact devices, they can be used to measure someone’s surface skin temperature from a far enough distance that obeys social distancing guidelines. Temperature-based screening, like thermal imaging, cannot determine if someone definitively has COVID-19, however thermal imaging can, if used properly, measure surface skin temperature accurately and more safe than oral or forehead thermometers. When a high body temperature is identified, that person is excluded from entering the event or venue, in an effort to protect staff and other patrons.
The key benefit to a thermal imaging system is that the staff member monitoring the technology does not need to be physically close to the evaluated people. In fact, they could be in a completely different room. This eliminates the need for personal protective equipment (PPE) and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) required training for temperature takers. More importantly, these staff members and attendees avoid physically interacting with each other and potentially spreading germs.
Coming out of this pandemic and moving forward, people are now more aware of germs, getting sick and being around those infected. As venues reopen and welcome guests, incorporating thermal imaging systems as part of a larger risk management system will provide attendees with a sense of security knowing that their chances of leaving the venue sick are lower than ever before.
As we reopen entertainment venues, installing a camera system that is complete with all angles and perspectives can help to play a role in mitigating both health and security risks. Using additional equipment like body cameras and other strategically placed cameras in conjunction with traditional CCTV and built in analytics, venue operators can identify lack of social distancing, utilize facial recognition for contact tracing and produce heat maps.
With added observation, cameras can provide a method for contact tracing within stadiums, casinos and a variety of other entertainment venues. Should the security team notice guests or staff members who are disregarding the social distancing guidelines, the venue can intervene. This will also ensure that contact tracing data is being stored in the event of an outbreak.
Some of these technologies can even be paired with facial recognition software that can track and identify individuals who had an elevated skin temperature at their pre-screening or who are visibly disregarding social distancing guidelines inside of the venue; however, some states have specific laws regulating facial recognition which will need to be considered. Venues will need to take into account privacy regulations in their respective region while working with their trusted VAR to design an effective reopening solution.
Cameras that are installed in the ceilings of sports venues and casinos may provide an accurate view from above, however they may miss the interpersonal misconduct that can happen between employees, patrons or even athletes playing in the game! Body cameras provide an on-the-ground view of activities that can supplement the traditional CCTV footage. In a casino, a body camera can be used for a multitude of benefits. Body cameras can deter aggression at the table, ward off cheating or scams and the footage could even be used for the future training of casino employees and dealers. Some camera systems offer additional lenses that could be mounted on a visor, hat or helmet making the wearer and the camera more inconspicuous.
Body cameras provide accountability for employees and patrons at sporting arenas, so why couldn’t this technology be used on the field or court? Just as the pylon camera captures those questionable touchdowns, a body camera attached to the referees could provide the real footage of the referee’s perspective for any difficult to see play call.
Upgraded Digital Infrastructure
The third piece of a well-equipped reopening plan is a strong digital infrastructure to support the venue’s future. Ten years ago, personal technology at entertainment venues looked very different than it does more recently. Attendees come with data-hungry devices, including smart phones and watches, and the need for a strong wireless infrastructure has only grown. Today, with 81 percent of Americans owning a smartphone, there is an opportunity to build up a strong wireless infrastructure that can be used to both assist in contact tracing measures and provide patrons with a strong wireless connection and signal.
As we implement precautionary measures like a network of surveillance cameras, thermal camera systems, contactless payment options, digital wayfinding screens to minimize patron-to-patron contact, Bluetooth beacons and other contact tracing tech, the wireless and data capacity of venues will need to grow accordingly. With the extent that this technology works in coordination with one another, it is important that venues evaluate their current infrastructure to ensure that it is capable of introducing new elements of this digital transformation.
As we continue to traverse the pandemic and beyond, it is key that partners remain agile and forward thinking. Taking these precautionary measures can prove to be helpful now as we all aim to protect against COVID-19, and also in the future as other challenges may arise. It’s important that partners work alongside sporting and entertainment venues to assess and strategically advise them on potential opportunities to aid in a safe reopening. Providing expert advice can give venues an enhanced confidence as they venture into an unprecedented time for their industry. Talk to your ScanSource representative today about how you can implement innovative technology solutions that work together to protect the health and wellbeing of employees and patrons.