Dahua and Hikvision Fever Cameras Endanger French and Scottish Nursing HomesBy Charles Rollet, Published on Jun 09, 2020
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.
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:
The announcement included a statement by a Hikvision representative.
Also, Balhousie included various pictures demonstrating how and where the fever cameras were screening entrants:
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):
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:
Hikvision's Scotland project also show staff being screened against a backdrop of large windowed doors in one of the care homes:
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:
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):
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":
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:
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:
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:
Problem 4: Dahua Downtilt Increases Inner Canthus Reading Problems, Impact of Hair/Hat Obstructions
The Dahua system in Lyon system is significantly downtilted:
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:
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:
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
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 cameras
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"
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"
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"
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?
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:
- Hikvision promoting an AI surveillance camera that can automatically detect members of the PRC's oppressed Uyghur minority
- Hikvision winning a deal with Xinjiang authorities to install facial recognition cameras in almost 1,000 local mosques and barring Uyghurs from applying to a secretive AI training project run out of a PRC paramilitary base
- Dahua winning almost $1 billion in far-ranging Xinjiang police projects including for building and operating police stations
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.