Hawaii installing facial recognition technology to aid in virus detection at airports

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Honolulu's Daniel K. Inouye Airport is one of five airports in Hawaii that will use facial imaging to help identify potential Covid-19 cases.
Honolulu's Daniel K. Inouye Airport is one of five airports in Hawaii that will use facial imaging to help identify potential Covid-19 cases.

Hawaii Gov. David Ige has told state legislators he expects facial imaging technology in place at all major Hawaii airports by the end of the year as part of the state's plan to detect possible Covid-19 cases among passengers arriving in the Islands.

Up until August, passengers arriving in the Aloha State during the pandemic received temperature screenings from state employees in hopes of catching those potentially infected with coronavirus before they come into contact with more people.

The facial imaging will be used in conjunction with temperature screening cameras, which were installed at the airports in August, to help monitor and track arriving passengers at the more than 130 gates at Hawaii's airports receiving out-of-state and international flights. With the screening cameras, anyone who registers a temperature above 100.4 degrees is asked to submit to a voluntary secondary screening conducted by paramedics. Prior to the implementation of the cameras, a state employee had to check each passenger's temperature individually. The technology is designed to monitor body temperatures even if the subjects are wearing masks and hats.

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The implementation of the two technologies will drastically reduce the manpower needed to monitor airports. The facial imaging will be used at a centralized airport location, where screeners can track the passengers who register a temperature that triggers further evaluation. The images will only be used at the moment to find the passenger and request they undergo secondary screening and will be deleted shortly after for privacy reasons.

The voluntary secondary screening includes a nasal test for coronavirus that is sent to an outside laboratory. While the state does not technically have the authority to hold passengers who refuse the extra screening, all passengers are required to provide identification and lodging information upon arrival to the state for follow-up and contact tracing purposes.

The five Hawaii airports with the technology are: Honolulu's Daniel K. Inouye Airport; Kahului Airport; Lihue Airport; Ellison Onizuka Kona Airport at Keahole; and Hilo Airport.

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