Six Flags' FDA Violating Outdoor Dahua Fever CamerasBy Charles Rollet, Published Oct 26, 2020, 08:49am EDT
As Six Flags scrambled to reopen parks amid plummeting revenues caused by the pandemic, it deployed Dahua fever cameras outdoors that violate FDA guidelines, creating a false sense of security and increasing risk to guests.
Despite that, Six Flags marketed Dahua devices as "new cutting edge thermal imaging" while showing false readings of up to 108° in its own marketing.
This one-minute video summarizes the problems:
In this post, IPVM examines this issue in-depth.
Due to COVID, Six Flags' revenue dropped 96% in Q2 2020 and its stock price has fallen by about 50%. Currently, only a fraction of Six Flags parks worldwide are open.
To reassure visitors and investors, in May, Six Flags began promoting new safety measures such as mandatory mask wearing and what they claimed to be "state of the art thermal imaging for temperature checks".
108°F Temperature Readings In Marketing
However, Six Flag's own marketing video showed the problems with its outdoor temperature screening. In the segment where it touts this 'cutting-edge thermal imaging', the subject in the center of the screen's temperature is measured at 102, 105, 107, even 108.7°F, as the excerpt below shows:
Given IPVM's testing of this Dahua system and dozens of other 'fever' systems, this inaccuracy, while concerning, does not surprise us. And while many organizations have made poor decisions on screening, it does surprise us that a publicly-traded company who historically has had ten of millions of annual guests would be so careless to display an obvious faulty set up in its own marketing.
New Thermal Imaging Has Numerous Problems
IPVM reviewed walkthrough videos for each currently open Six Flags park in the US from YouTubers and found numerous FDA fever screening guidance violations:
- Outdoor screening deployments fundamentally undermine guidance, as they cannot stop 'draft (movement of air)' and they cannot ensure the 'temperature should be 68-76 °F (20-24 °C) and relative humidity 10-50 percent'. Temperature and humidity can vary greatly over the year and even during the course of a day. For example, this week Six Flag's NJ park will have temperatures ranging from 38°F to 61°F and multiple days with humidity of 80%+.
- The FDA advises "at least 15 minutes" of wait time for people in a "measurement room" until they are screened by a thermal camera. However, visitors enter Six Flags' fever screening areas immediately from outdoor queuing areas with no little to no adjustment period. This means outside weather conditions (hot sun, cold rain, etc) will impact skin temperature readings.
- Blackbody calibration devices on Six Flags' fever screening systems are placed close to the thermal camera, violating FDA guidance that the blackbody is placed close to people being screened. This skews system accuracy as blackbodies are meant to be compared directly to human body temps and major manufacturers - including Dahua - say they function properly only if placed next to humans, which IPVM testing confirms.
- FDA guidance advises screening be carried out in rooms with "no draft (movement of air)" but Six Flags' screening 'tents' typically have large air conditioning systems and/or fans blowing onto visitors. International guidelines also advise these systems avoid "drafts from sources such as air conditioning ducts" so that people's faces are not artificially cooled.
- The FDA advises "any face obstructions" be removed, including hair and masks, however, Six Flags allow masks and hair obstructions to remain.
- The FDA states "measure only one person" at a time but IPVM found multiple instances of Six Flags parks doing simultaneous screening.
In many cases, Six Flags' poor setups violated Dahua's own install instructions as well, as we show below.
Screened Immediately After Queuing Outside
Each park has a Dahua fever camera system located in a tent prior to bag checks, e.g. this is the tent at Six Flags America in Maryland as shown by this YouTuber:
Prior to screening people queue up outdoors, as shown by this YouTuber at Six Flags Great Adventure in New Jersey:
Contrast to FDA guidance recommending "at least 15 minutes in the measurement room":
No Removal Of Masks/Hair, Simultaneous Screening
The parks have signs telling visitors to "remove all headware" and "eyeglasses", as seen at Six Flags Great Adventure from this YouTuber:
This violates FDA guidelines which state all face obstructions must be removed including masks and hair:
Wrong Blackbody Placement
US Six Flags parks had incorrectly configured fever screening setups with the blackbody close to the camera, e.g. this setup at St Louis:
And this setup at Six Flags Great Adventure in New Jersey:
This violates FDA guidance which states the blackbody be adjacent to subjects being screened, not the camera:
Air Conditioning Ducts Blowing Onto Visitors
At Six Flags Fiesta Texas, strong A/C units can be seen blowing cold air directly onto visitors:
At Six Flags America in Maryland, a fan blew onto people:
Another YouTuber mentioned that "it is very cool [cold] inside the tent".
All this violates FDA guidance that fever screening be set up "in a room with no draft (movement of air):
Dahua Correct Installation
The Six Flags deployments also violate Dahua's own correct install practices.
For example, Dahua advises people queue up with social distancing and are screened one-by-one, in line with FDA guidance to "measure only person at a time":
However the open Six Flags parks had multiple people passing through, e.g. this family in St Louis per this local news report:
Or these people being screened at Six Flags Over Texas:
Dahua also advises the solution be set up "indoors" including "queuing area" with "no wind":
As we showed above, Six Flags makes visitors queue outside and the tents are filled with air drafts/wind.
Finally, Dahua's instructions state that the blackbody be placed about 118 inches (10 feet/3m) away from the camera:
But Six Flags' blackbodies are far closer to the camera, further degrading accuracy.
Dahua replied to our concerns about Six Flags, saying that "because we respect the privacy of our integrators and End Users we will decline to comment."
We asked Dahua in response to that:
Without speaking specifically about Six Flags, can Dahua provide a statement about what Dahua does when they are notified of Dahua medical devices being deployed in conditions that clearly violate FDA guidelines?
Dahua did not respond.
Six Flags No Response
IPVM repeatedly contacted members of Six Flags' PR and investor relations team but they did not respond. If they do in the future, we will update.
Deploying such poorly implemented systems gives visitors and employees a false sense of security while resulting in false negatives missing fevers and unnecessary hassle for false positives.
It is worth remembering, though, that safe and accurate fever camera deployments are possible if "set up and operated correctly" as the FDA states.
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