Dahua and Hikvision Fever Cameras Endanger French and Scottish Nursing Homes

By Charles Rollet, Published Jun 09, 2020, 09:00am EDT

Dahua and Hikvision fever cameras are being used at, respectively, French and Scottish nursing homes, violating international fever scanning standards and endangering the lives of the elderly at these facilities amid ongoing coronavirus deaths.

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Background: Dahua and Hikvision Fever Cams in Europe's Senior Homes

The Balhousie Care Group, which describes itself as "Scotland's largest private care provider", issued a press release announcing it was "installing Hikvision thermal imaging cameras into all 25 of the Group’s care homes", as this excerpt from the announcement shows:

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The announcement included a statement by a Hikvision representative.

Also, Balhousie included various pictures demonstrating how and where the fever cameras were screening entrants:

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Meanwhile, Dahua has marketed a Lyon, France nursing home (Résidence Ambroise Paré) is using their fever cams - a national first, it claims (IPVM could not confirm this but we found no other examples of fever cam deployments in French nursing homes):

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These are substantial deals: Hikvision's is reportedly worth £182,000 ($230,000) total at almost $9,000 per camera and for Dahua a single camera cost almost $17,000 according to French media reports.

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In both cases, employees/staff and visitors are the ones being screened, not residents.

Problem 1: Facing Windows / Doorway Increases Risk of Stray Heat or Cold Sources Throwing Off Readings

For Dahua, French news broadcasts show staff being scanned in front of large windowed doors:

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Hikvision's Scotland project also show staff being screened against a backdrop of large windowed doors in one of the care homes:

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This violates the ISO standard stating that "sun-facing windows" and "cold windows" are things that "need to be avoided" as they are potential hot/cold sources that interfere with the fever cam:

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Problem 2: No Time to Acclimate / Weather Issues

In Dahua's case, staff is shown being screened right after entering from outdoors where the weather may be very hot or cold, affecting face skin temperature (which is what fever cams actually measure):

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This is a well-known issue and Hikvision, in fact, recommends in its own fever screening instructions that people "coming in from outdoors should stay indoors for more than five minutes":

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However, the integrator for Hikvision's Scotland care home project, McKenna Electrical, told IPVM there is no waiting period prior to screening and people are captured basically "as soon as they enter the building":

it's not intrusive in any way. you don't have to stand and wait for a few seconds

most of them [fever cameras] are situated right at first point of entry. Most of the buildings have a small holding area with an access control system and a sign-in book. As soon as they enter the building, they'll be captured by the camera

Problem 3: Hikvision Has No Inner Canthus Detection

As IPVM testing revealed, Hikvision's fever camera AI focuses solely on the forehead and does not try to find the inner eye, which is recognized as the most accurate part of the face to read temperatures. Anyone with a hat or hair obstructing the forehead will cause accuracy issues, as our test excerpt below demonstrates:

However, McKenna Electrical, the Hikvision integrator, told IPVM the solution has "no specific guidance for taking off hats or anything". In the Balhousie press release, a staffer with significant forehead hair obstructions (circled in red by IPVM) is being screened:

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This is concerning since it means the system has a strong chance of missing someone with a fever because of something as simple as the person wearing a hat or having bangs or longish hair. The IEC standard is very clear that all face obstructions must be removed:

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Even "individual hairs" on the forehead "degraded accuracy", one FDA study found last month, adding that foreheads are a "generally inferior" indicator of body temperature:

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Problem 4: Dahua Downtilt Increases Inner Canthus Reading Problems, Impact of Hair/Hat Obstructions

The Dahua system in Lyon system is significantly downtilted:

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However, according to IEC/ISO and US FDA standards, fever cams must be placed directly in front of someone in order to get the best possible shot of the crucial inner eye area. Both IPVM's independent testing and academic research show that significantly angled faces give less accurate reads.

See this FDA diagram for what a proper setup looks like:

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US FDA Guidance on Nursing Homes

The US FDA has explicitly recommended in its latest guidance that fever cameras not be used in nursing homes as "inaccurate temperature measurement" could "spread infection" among those most vulnerable to dying of COVID-19:

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Balhousie Responds

While Balhousie originally responded to IPVM with comments, they subsequently retracted them after IPVM detailed these concerns and threatened to sue us, declaring:

Among the sweeping assumptions made are:

  • Placement of the cameras (you don’t know the layout of our homes, how long people will wait, where the cameras are, whether or not there are separate porch/entrances and time in between entering the front door and temperature taken). [emphasis added]
  • Rules on eyeglasses, objects, headgear – again, we gave you no details on our rules surrounding this and you’re making huge assumptions here.

Therefore we’re retracting our statements to you. You have our press release, we’re giving you no more information on top of this. If it is published we will take action and our lawyers have been made aware of this.

The accusation that we do not know where the cameras are is particularly odd given Balhouise demonstrates where they are and where they cover in their own press release. We reached out to Balhouise repeatedly to incorporate their input.

Hikvision, Dahua No Response

IPVM sent a detailed list of our concerns regarding these deployments to both Hikvision and Dahua. Neither has yet responded to our request for comment. If they do later, we will update and include them.

No UK Privacy Regulation of Fever Cameras

The UK's ICO has issued guidance on such cameras noting:

You should also think about whether you can achieve the same results through other, less privacy intrusive, means. If so, then the monitoring may not be considered proportionate.

France Bans Fever Camera Use By Employers

However, the French data protection agency - the CNIL - has banned employers from deploying fever cameras:

it is forbidden for employers to build databases storing the temperature data of their employees. They [employers] are also prohibited from installing automatic temperature sensing tools such as thermal camerasIPVM Image

AN2V, the French video surveillance association (similar to SIA in the US), has thrown cold water on fever cameras, stating their use is "unfavorable" in a paper on the topic:

AN2V cannot make a final recommendation of use or non-use for these systems [...] AN2V states, nevertheless, that one must have a deployment policy for such systems of "unfavorable without a specific exception" as opposed to "favorable aside from a specific exception"

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French lawyer Martin Drago, who works for digital rights group La Quadrature du Net, told IPVM that despite the CNIL ban fever cams continue to be deployed in France, which he worries will lead to further "normalization" of omnipresent video surveillance:

The CNIL declared [fever cameras] to be illegal if done by employers and said so quite plainly. So it's weird that they are saying this, but so many businesses are still doing it - they don't care about the CNIL [...] There's always this risk of normalization and banalization of video surveillance spreading without any public debate.

Big Brother Watch: "Really Worrying"

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Silkie Carlo is the director of UK privacy rights organization Big Brother Watch, which recently issued a report urging all firms/organizations to "immediately cease use of thermal surveillance, absent a strong evidence base and robust safeguards."

Carlo expressed serious concerns to IPVM about the deployment of these systems in nursing homes:

It's really worrying. As you showed and as we showed in our report, there is no clear evidence that these actually work. To see care homes wasting money on surveillance theater that may wrongly flag people as needing health intervention, and then miss people that need health intervention, that's a crazy worry. You'd think there would be slightly more robust methods in place, like actually using thermometers. It seems the surveillance industry is having a field day selling this experimental stuff to institutions that actually desperately need the money. I really don't understand why a nursing home would be spending money on this.

Privacy International Tells IPVM "Serious Questions"

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Lucy Purdon, acting policy director of UK based charity Privacy International, told IPVM they had "serious questions":

Hikvision is an interesting choice to procure from. The surveillance technology sold by this Chinese company caused a global outcry when used to intensely surveil, identify and persecute Uighur Muslims in the Xinjiang region of China. There should, therefore, be serious questions about how appropriate it is to install this kind of technology in care homes in Scotland. Aside from the technology itself, its use also raises more questions than whether someone has a temperature or not. How accurate are the readings? Who is trained to use the technology? What happens when the alarm goes off? What if it's a false alarm? What happens if someone does have a temperature? What if someone refuses to have their temperature taken? Will it create a false sense of security so that people become less stringent about other measures such as hand washing and social distancing?

Ethical Issues

The use of fever cams in nursing homes raises ethical concerns. That Hikvision and Dahua are the ones promoting this is less surprising. Both firms have been sanctioned by the US government for complicity in human rights abuses in Xinjiang last October, with unethical deployments including:

Conclusion: Fever Cams Endanger Elderly

These cameras increase risk and endanger the elderly as missing fevers can lead to infections among society's most vulnerable. Tens of thousands of UK senior home resides have been killed by this virus, including nine deaths at a single Balhousie facility; in France, nursing home deaths stand at over 10,000. Fever cams, especially misapplied, create a dangerously false sense of security and risk that people with fevers will be missed.

10 reports cite this report:

Faulty Hikvision Fever Camera Deployments Spread In UK Healthcare Facilities on Nov 02, 2020
Faulty Hikvision fever screening systems are spreading despite prominent UK...
Six Flags' FDA Violating Outdoor Dahua Fever Cameras on Oct 26, 2020
As Six Flags scrambled to reopen parks amid plummeting revenues caused by the...
GDPR Impact On Temperature / Fever Screening Explained on Oct 22, 2020
What impact does GDPR have on temperature screening? Do you risk a GDPR fine...
Dangerous Hikvision Fever Screening Marketing In Africa on Sep 15, 2020
A multi-national African Hikvision distributor is marketing dangerously...
Thermology Expert: "95-99%" Doing Fever Screening Wrong, Unjustified Compensating Algorithms "Insane" on Aug 27, 2020
A thermology expert tells IPVM "95 to 99% of people" are doing fever...
Temperature Screening Is Ineffective, Says US, UK, Canada, Israel, And Ireland Health Leaders on Aug 25, 2020
Health leaders around the world are increasingly speaking out about the...
2020 Mid Year Video Surveillance Industry Guide on Jul 27, 2020
The first half of 2020 has been shocking, for the world generally, and for...
Dahua USA Admits Thermal Solutions "Qualify As Medical Devices" on Jul 02, 2020
Dahua USA has issued a press release admitting a controversial point in the...
UK Firm Markets False Fever Screening, Hikvision Disavows on Jun 30, 2020
A UK security firm falsely claimed its Hikvision-based thermal solution could...
ZKTeco SpeedFace+ Are Medical Devices, Per FDA Definition, Contrary Claims Are False on Jun 12, 2020
ZKTeco SpeedFace+ series products are medical devices as defined by the US...

Comments (19)

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Charles, good reporting!

This report shows the real-world danger of systems that so many in the surveillance industry have been so excited to sell.

I wanted to address Balhousie's objections further. Balhousie's response to IPVM included:

it is extremely disappointing that you point the finger at a care home group which is endeavouring to do everything in its power to minimise the spread of COVID-19 and you come back with inaccuracies and untruths.

Organizations like Balhousie are mostly victims of the industry. Companies like Hikvision and Dahua market their products with visuals that emphasize screening that is effortless, you just point the camera at the entrance, people walk by and it works.

Literally, here is an example of Hikvision UK promoting a Hikvision HQ video that shows just this in the past week:

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These manufacturers need to take responsibility.

IPVM respects the challenges that nursing homes face and can only imagine how much stress they have been under the past few months. Surely they want to protect the safety of their residents. Balhousie and other nursing homes need to take this up with the companies that sold them systems that violate international standards and endanger their residents.

Silkie Carlo's response is spot on with my thoughts about current thermal systems as well. It's a lot of money for an experimental solution, and I cannot fathom why the homes did not try using handheld thermometers for a period of time in lue of a $10k+ system. Hell, even if I were to install a temperature screening system, I'd strongly recommend that staff double-verify for a while with thermometers.

This is sad.

Update: Silkie Carlo, director of UK privacy rights organization Big Brother Watch, told IPVM the deployment of these systems in nursing homes is "really worrying":

It's really worrying. As you showed and as we showed in our report, there is no clear evidence that these actually work. To see care homes wasting money on surveillance theater that may wrongly flag people as needing health intervention, and then miss people that need health intervention, that's a crazy worry. You'd think there would be slightly more robust methods in place, like actually using thermometers. It seems the surveillance industry is having a field day selling this experimental stuff to institutions that actually desperately need the money. I really don't understand why a nursing home would be spending money on this.

The report Carlo is referring to urges all firms/organizations to "immediately cease use of thermal surveillance, absent a strong evidence base and robust safeguards."

Point of correction on CNIL, the quote in your article states "It is also banned for them to put in place tools that automatically record temperatures". The statement from the link in the article on the CNIL site says"They are also prohibited from installing automatic temperature sensing tools "

The statement in your article might give the impression that a thermal camera is ok if it is not actually recording temperature data which would not be correct.

It's too bad that rather than engage with you to correct the issues with their installation and use of the technology, the Balhousie group chose to fight. It's one thing to have a company get duped by the marketing out there and own up to and try to correct the facts, it's another to actively deny and become defensive, to me at that point they stop being a victim and become a part of the problem.

Hi UI #2, yes your translation is more accurate, I've updated the piece. Merci !

It's interesting to see that most of the problems noted in this report are those of improper installation.

I wonder if the installers are being properly trained and are choosing to install in these locations regardless or if they are unaware of the risks they are creating with these setups.

Hey Josh, thanks for your comment! I would add that I don't think it's just the integrator's fault, for example, Hikvision does not openly disclose that its fever cameras only detect forehead temps.

Also, yes most of the problems covered in our report are of improper installation. However I do think a critical factor is that the FDA recommends against nursing home deployments, regardless of installation quality. Even a perfectly set-up fever cam system has no place in a nursing home.

Nice find. In that post, Vulcan says:

In nursing homes and assisted living facilities, thermal cameras could be installed

I've found similar statements from other security firms, although (like Vulcan) no evidence of actual fever camera nursing home deployments:

This device will greatly benefit nursing homes [ZNH Technologies, Pennsylvania touting a Sunell TN-5 'Panda' cam]

In schools, hospitals, and nursing homes, where some of our most vulnerable members of society are taken care of, the protection afforded by the thermal reading cameras will be most vital. [from a press release for Eledlights, based in CA & PA. The thermal cam they are touting is clearly Dahua.]

The PT-BF5421-T thermal camera has a wide variety of applications, including: Hospitals, Health Clinics, Nursing Homes and Assisted Living Facilities [from Platinum CCTV, Illinois. Their thermal cam is also Dahua]

Using thermal technology, we can accurately (+ or - 0.1° C) measure a person's temperature at the entrance of a facility hospital, nursing home (Access Security Inc, Washington state]

In terms of actual, live fever camera installs in nursing homes, so far I've found two other examples:

There is also a nursing home under construction in Australia (Robina, a suburb of Gold Coast) that says it will have Dahua fever cams deployed, per a local media report. The integrator is HomeStay Care.

Let's all bake cakes.

Let's watch the second hand emotion.

Internet: Just Stop.


MA just published a paper, the first one I have seen, regarding the things that need to happen for schools to open in September. They state "after discussions with the COVID-19 command centers medical advisory committee, it is not recommended to temperature check students at entry due to the significant number of both false positive and false negative results"

This whole business case for these cameras just went out the window IMO.

Yes the above is for schools but I can't imagine going to a non-public entity and telling them, yeah everyone has to come in the building, hang around in the lobby with the rest of your staff to warm up for five minutes then go through this line for screening and oh yeah - it gives false positives and negatives at a high rate. Now give me $25K.

This is just snake oil. Even if these cameras work for this application, and that is questionable, they are the wrong tool for the job. Why not just use a no touch thermometer? About 1/1000th the cost. And way more accurate. It would be very easy to mount a thermometer on a tripod, then have the people stand in a square, and have an automated system take a regular still image, and overlay the temperature data from the no touch thermometer. Duh.

Thank you IPVM for all the great reports here.

Taking this together with the known physical limitations, as well as an understanding of how relatively small benefits to transmission reduction can make a difference at the society level, I think both extremes (ubiquitous thermal cameras and NO thermal cameras) are wrong.

The best analogy is masks. No one claims cloth masks are 100% effective, and thus any given individual with one is still vulnerable, but they can provide enough protection that society benefits when everyone wears one. However, where better protection is needed, such as a more vulnerable or exposed population, N95 masks (or even better equipment) are used instead.

Thermal cameras are the cloth masks of temperature sensing, and forehead/oral thermometers are the N95 masks. That is to say, thermal cameras do not need to be perfect (or even great), but if they succeed in finding a few of the most feverish cases, then society WILL benefit from a general reduction in transmission rates. It's especially useful in instances where staffing is tight (keeping in mind that any increase in staffing FAR outweighs the cost of the thermal camera) and/or the foot traffic is high enough that the line that WOULD be created by using handheld thermometers on every visitor would itself become a transmission risk. Where much greater guarantees of protection are needed (e.g., nursing homes), the more accurate technology (forehead and/or oral thermometer) is needed.

The shallowest cost/benefit analysis says cloth masks as an imperfect defense at a couple of bucks a throw are a lot better expenditure of money than is are $15k camera systems (or even $5k systems) that are an even less proven defense.The assumption that nobody's going to go hunting a mask manufacturer or distributor for misrepresentation if they say "masks will help!" and then the masks are found to not meet the representative specs, is fallacious - - it's already been disproved:

US sues Chinese firm over half-million 'fake' N95 masks

Guess what's waiting in the wings for makers and sellers of this technology if people sicken and die due to reliance on exaggerated statements of effectiveness?

There is a significant difference in IR technology. Less expensive components in cameras have greater difficulties contending with uniformity, camera drift, environmental drift, pixel coverage, spatial resolution, etc. The technology, when used properly, is quite effective. The problem is that the technology itself is difficult to understand and most people purchasing are looking at price rather then the aforementioned specifications and taking the time to understand these specs. Also, the application needs to adhere to set standards to be performed accurately. The world wanted a crowd scanning system that did not require the removal of masks, hats, glasses or even the individuals looking directly at the camera. All of this is leading to the discovery that IR systems that can perform this elevated temp screening are vary few and far in between each other and in the midst of the high quality systems are 50X the amount of lower quality systems.

As someone who has entered a nursing home several times a week to visit a covid-19 infected senior on hospice, these things upset me. I see first-hand what protocols are like in these facilities. Even if they worked perfectly - which they don't - the nature of the virus is such that using this technology could lead to *more* infections, not less. Even if a manufacturer supplied these cameras free-of-charge, I'd be very concerned about their use providing a false sense of complacency.

Also, I don't know about nursing homes in Europe - likely much better funded than the vast majority of U.S. ones - but long-term care facilities could likely desperately use the money spent on this for many other things than would improve the care conditions and quality of life for their residents.

Charles brilliant reporting.

It's another example, at least in the UK, of an awful care system.

This is about one thing - COST.

A poorly funded care system once again cutting corners at the expense of the lives of their residents, to fob off concerned relatives, and a total disregard for their underpaid and under pressure staff.

And to an extent, I get the point of #6. But if customers want to waste money on inaccurate thermal rubbish to catch one "feverish" person put them where people have a choice to go or be - preferably healthy young people that can make a judgement call - not in a care home.

This can surely only be described by Scots as utter pish.

And I do hope you've passed this on to local journalists because it's quite frankly abhorrent when you consider what has happened in UK care homes these last few months.

Update from Balhousie Homes Comms Manager Gillian Drummond can be found here. She discusses the challenges of PR during the pandemic. "We felt vilified publicly. Privately, we felt exasperated."

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