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The COVID19 pandemic has introduced an ongoing challenge: how to ensure the safety of people in a shared space for working, shopping, receiving services, or participating in events and activities. For live events such as motorsports, organizers need health and safety measures to protect many people in many areas, even without fans in the stands.
The need to implement specific measures to reduce the potential for the spread of COVID19 prompted Penske Corporation to look for technology solutions to help. Penske is a diversified, on-highway transportation services company whose subsidiaries operate in a variety of industry segments, including retail automotive, truck leasing, transportation logistics and professional motorsports. Hitachi brought its Smart Spaces and Lumada Video Insights technologies to the challenge, co-creating a targeted, mobile and adaptable temperature monitoring solution that Penske could use in various limited facilities.
Given the health risks presented by the pandemic, Penske was intent on mitigating potential COVID19 exposure for staff and visitors in its facilities. Following public health guidance, the company sought a solution to quickly and easily check the temperature of everyone who enters their facilities.
“Penske was extremely concerned about their staff, making sure they were safe. So we quickly deployed a solution that would help the company’s safety plans happen,” says Mark Jules, global vice president of Smart Spaces and Video Intelligence at Hitachi Vantara.
Hitachi designed a Smart Spaces solution that performs fast, automated temperature checks for everyone entering restricted areas. The solution helps Penske and facility staff verify that employees or visitors do not have the elevated body temperature that can signal a health risk.
Hitachi Smart Spaces is an end-to-end solution that helps organizations improve the safety, operations, and experience of employees and customers. Enabled by Hitachi’s Lumada Video Insights, Smart Spaces solutions are used in a wide range of settings and industries and can include video, 3D Lidar analytics and data visualization technologies.
The Hitachi solution for Penske centers on Lumada temperature detection units, which include nonintrusive thermal cameras, a video display monitor, the Hitachi Smart Edge Gateway 300 device for data transfer over a wireless or cellular network to a company monitoring center, and Hitachi Visualization Suite analytics software.
The thermal camera checks a person’s temperature from a distance, an especially important factor in small spaces. Each facial scan requires only a few seconds to produce a temperature reading, which appears as a thermal image that does not distinctively identify the person, protecting privacy. If the camera detects a temperature outside of a certain threshold, that person is directed to a separate area to receive a secondary temperature check or other assistance.
Safety managers can use the Hitachi Visualization Suite software to view temperature-check data as key indicators and trends on dashboards, as well as live video feeds “One of the nice parts about the Hitachi Smart Spaces and Lumada Video Insights solution is that we're able to do a lot of the data storage and analytics at the edge to cut down on latency,” says Jules. “Then we're able to share that data with hundreds of company personnel from different groups, through the cloud, which allows that data to be viewed anywhere on any kind of device at any time.”
At the same time, Hitachi solutions protect the privacy and personally identifiable information (PII) of the individuals being monitored. Hitachi’s video solutions pixelate all human images in footage while keeping movement and actions recognizable. One such solution, for example, is Hitachi’s 3D Lidar, which some businesses are using to monitor handwashing behavior. “One of the really nice things about Lidar is it's 100% private, meaning that while you can see shapes and you can see movements, you cannot recognize a person,” says Jules. “So obviously for COVID and things like hand washing, which might take place in sensitive places, it's extremely effective.”
Another important factor for Penske was a solution that could be moved easily among locations and that would be easy for local staff to install and use. “We were able to meet Penske’s requirement for mobility by designing units that employees can roll from one location to another,” says S’ad Kanan, senior vice president of global automotive at Hitachi Vantara. At the new location, the unit simply needs to be plugged into a power source and connected to the Hitachi data gateway.
The Hitachi solution was designed and deployed within four weeks. “For many events, the timelines are short and things change, especially with COVID, on a day-to-day basis,” says Jules. “We were able to very quickly deploy our edge devices and our thermal sensors as part of the Smart Spaces and Lumada Video Insights solution.”
Fast solution deployment can provide valuable peace of mind during live events. In one example, over three days, more than 2,100 temperature scans were completed by the Hitachi units, with 12 alerts of elevated temperature. With the Hitachi Visualization Suite, designated company staff members immediately receive alerts about anyone who might have an elevated temperature, which helps to improve safety for everyone at the site. These alerts, incident reports and related historical data can be stored and managed in the suite for reporting, compliance verification and case management.
“As someone who has had the opportunity to interact with the equipment before, I feel super comfortable that we have this technology out here, where people can be scanned so quickly through cameras, making sure that their temperatures are in the correct place just to keep us safe,” says Josef Newgarden, INDYCAR driver for Team Penske.
The Hitachi solution offers several potential ongoing benefits to Penske, including:
As the pandemic evolves, organizations of all types will need to ensure that workers in all workplaces are able to be on site and conduct business in a safe and healthy manner, notes Kanan. “You want the holistic strategy that takes into consideration your initiatives, so that your architecture is adaptable to future needs and you don't have to keep redoing the solution.” For example, the Hitachi 3D Lidar technology can be used to determine a person’s location and movement within a facility to provide useful information for contact tracing.
The Hitachi Digital Health and Safety Solution, that includes temperature analysis, delivers substantial value for mitigating health and safety risks. With solutions that help companies like Penske address the current COVID19 crisis, Hitachi is fulfilling its mission of powering good with products and technologies that provide societal as well as economic benefit today and into the future. “Hitachi's health and safety solution, and bringing people back to work during the pandemic as safely as possible, is a great example of Hitachi's dedication to social innovation and powering good,” says Jules. “It's a very simple, but very powerful idea that Hitachi takes extremely seriously.”