US Jail Uses China State Owned Nuctech Fever Camera

By Charles Rollet, Published Apr 30, 2020, 08:45am EDT

Police in Ohio are boasting about their jail's new fever camera system, which was given to them by a China state-owned manufacturer, who now employs one of the jail's former officers, IPVM has verified.

IPVM Image

Inside this note, we examine the connection between the jail and the China state-owned manufacturer, the background of the manufacturer and its use of this fever camera.

Executive Summary

The Ohio Butler County Jail is using a fever camera from Tongfang weishi (aka Nuctech), the China state-owned mega airport body scanner manufacturer. The jail confirmed to IPVM the camera is a free demo.

IPVM Image

While this is the first example, in our extensive research, of Nuctech providing fever cameras in the USA, the jail has a direct connection to Nuctech. James Turco, Nuctech's USA National Sales Manager, left his job as a Butler County correction officer in 2019 to join Nuctech. Turco can be seen operating the jail's Nuctech body scanner as a C/O in this 2017 news report.

Local News Report Summary

A news report from TV station Local 12 in Cincinnati, Ohio, featured the new fever camera system for the Butler County Jail, which was set up after an inmate tested positive for COVID-19 earlier this month.

Join IPVM Newsletter?

IPVM is the #1 authority in video surveillance news, in-depth tests, and training courses. Get emails, once a day, Monday to Friday.

Nuctech Background

Nuctech, founded in the 1990s by General Secretary Hu Jintao's son is a state-owned entity controlled by China's state-owned Tsinghua university. The company is best known for its significant share of the global airport body scanner industry (like Hikvision but for body scanners).

Like many companies around the world, Nuctech has joined the booming fever camera market noting they sold 100 units in March to Australia and New Zealand.

Nuctech FeverBlock Demo Examined

Nuctech put out a demo video for FeverBlock which shows accurate simultaneous body temperature detection for a group of people, with some wearing sunglasses:

IPVM Image

However, in real life, simultaneous body temp detection is much harder since people tend to obscure each other's faces. It's no surprise the people are conveniently staggered so their full faces can be captured by the camera, as the demo is staged:

IPVM Image

As for glasses, these obscure the inner eye which the FDA and the IEC both state are critical to accurate temperature taking.

Finally, Nuctech claims accurate detection at up to 5 meters (16 feet) distance and with 37.9°× 28.7°(H x V) field of view, according to a Nuctech brochure. Despite this FoV, this is too far for meaningful accuracy. The global standard for such devices published by the International Electrotechnical Commission states the face image "shall fill at least 240 image pixels by 180 image pixels" and 16 feet is too far to obtain that kind of resolution. But Nuctech sells this as a plus:

Measuring from a safe distance of 1m to 5m and no contact temperature measurement ensures very low risk of disease infection. [emphasis added]

How It Works

Local 12 reported that temperature checks at the jail were previously done one-by-one via a handheld thermometer, but that this was replaced by a single thermal camera, which is safer because "no touching or close contact is needed":

Before the new technology arrived at the jail, temperatures were taken in close contact, and by hand. Now, when inmates walk in, they're getting checked and they probably don't even realize it.

The Butler County Sheriff, Richard Jones, said a high temperature reading from this system is considered "bad" and causes an alarm to go off:

If somebody has a temperature that's not normal, that's not average, an alarm goes off. Everybody stops they turn around they look and you can see who has the bad temperature [emphasis added]

IPVM Image

Secondary Confirmation Used

The Ohio County Sheriff's office confirmed to IPVM that if someone has a high body temp, they are double checked with a thermometer. This is the correct approach as outlined by the FDA:

An elevated body temperature measurement is confirmed in the context of use with secondary evaluation methods (e.g., non-contact infrared thermometer (NCIT) or clinical grade contact thermometer) [emphasis added]

Inmates Screened One-At-A-Time

In the news report, Sheriff Jones also said the system allows the jail to screen many people at once:

if there's like 12 people coming in, all at the same time, it takes all their pictures, puts them right up on the camera, then underneath each one of 'em it gives their temperatures

This is similar to Sunell's Panda Cam, which touts body temp detection of dozens of people simultaneously. However, the Ohio County Sheriff's office clarified to IPVM that the readings are done "one at a time":

[the system is] one reading at a time but it is an instant reading the inmates do not have to stop they keep walking

Screening people one at a time is the correct approach per FDA guidance which states:

The technology should be used to measure only one subject’s temperature at a time

The reason such guidance exists is simple; in real life, simultaneous screening is not accurate since an individual's face is often obscured when he or she is walking in a crowd.

Outlook - Nuctech USA Outlier But Sign of Broader Times

Since Nuctech has minimal distribution and local staff, this jail case is likely to be an outlier for Nuctech US generally.

However, this certainly does reflect broader themes in the market now of sellers using their connections to quickly get into various accounts as organizations scramble to figure out the best ways to keep people safe or calm coronavirus fears, not necessarily in that order.

2 reports cite this report:

Sanctioned Nuctech Changes USA Name to 'Secure Technology Value Solutions' on Aug 09, 2022
Nuctech has become a major global force in security screening, though the...
FDA Issues 13 Warning Letters For Multi-Person Fever Screening Violations on Mar 04, 2021
The US FDA has sent warning letters to four [update: now thirteen] thermal...
Comments (24) : Subscribers only. Login. or Join.
Loading Related Reports