Axis Compares Fever Camera Sellers to 9/11By John Honovich, Published on Sep 18, 2020
Axis Communications, the West's largest surveillance camera manufacturer, has quietly sat out the fever camera gold rush. No more.
In a new NBC News investigation into fever cameras in schools, Axis spoke out against this, comparing them to opportunistic sellers in the aftermath of the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
However, what fever camera salesmen are doing is much worse. While post 9/11 sales were very bad and many people bought useless or broken equipment, many fever cameras are rigged giving a false sense of security that increases the risk that more die.
Axis To NBC News
Below is what Axis told NBC News:
Some of the more established vendors of security products to schools, including Axis Communications, have avoided the fever detection business altogether over concerns that thermal cameras aren’t accurate enough to detect fevers quickly in large groups because of how sunshine, exertion and masks can alter readings.
"If you have 500 students entering between 8:00 a.m. and 8:15 a.m., we don’t believe we are going to make a product work accurately enough," said Fredrik Nilsson, vice president of the Americas at Axis Communications, a major supplier of surveillance cameras to schools, retailers and other businesses. "We are very long term and not opportunistic."
"If you have 500 students entering between 8:00 a.m. and 8:15 a.m., we don’t believe we are going to make a product work accurately enough."
He compared the proliferation of companies selling fever detection tools to those that sold facial recognition technology in the aftermath of the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
"A lot of airports went out and spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to install facial recognition at check-in and realized it wasn’t accurate enough and they had tens of thousands of false positives a day," he said, warning that schools could find themselves in a similar predicament. [emphasis added]
Axis certainly has a point here. But our testing shows it is even worse.
While undoubtedly hundreds of millions were rashly spent after 9/11 on video surveillance systems that were ineffective, it was much easier to see ineffective video analytics or poor quality cameras than it is to see ineffective fever detection.
When a perimeter protection systems alarms on a headlight, the user can immediately see the system is 'broken'. When a facial recognition system alarms on someone who looks nothing like the watchlist, the user can immediately see the system is 'broken'.
When a fever detection system misses someone with a fever, people cannot simply look at a person and tell (as they can with video analytics and facial recognition mistakes). Worse, since so few people have a fever and almost everyone nearly has the same temperature, it is easy to trick people into thinking it is working.
This has created the phenomenon of rigged systems:
It is good that Axis spoke out on this issue and we encourage more industry professionals to do so.
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