The world’s third busiest airport started thermal crowd checks this week
by Lark Gould
Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) launched the Terminal Wellness Project this week, deploying thermal camera technology at the world’s third busiest airport to help identify travelers with an elevated body temperature. It’s the latest measure in the city’s continuing response to the COVID-19 health crisis, as the city of some four million residents begins to see a resurgence of cases.
Prior to the pandemic, the airport moved a record 88.1 million travelers in 2019. In April, passenger traffic at LAX was more than 95% below what it was a year earlier.
Starting this week, thermal cameras have been deployed at two locations inside the Tom Bradley International Terminal –– at the main entrance on the departures level and inside the terminal near select international arrivals –– with both arriving and departing passengers screened. The cameras are designed to rapidly identify people with body temperatures of 100.4 degrees or more, which is the current guideline for detecting a fever set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
“A world-class airport isn’t defined just by our historic investments in a reimagined LAX and an improved traveling experience –– it’s also about world-class safety,” said Mayor Garcetti. “This project reflects the best of this city’s innovative spirit, and it will help keep travelers healthy and set a new industry standard.”
This is a voluntary program with signage alerting passengers where this trial will take place. If a voluntary participant is identified as having an elevated body temperature, a medical professional near the camera operator will approach the identified person and request a secondary screening using a handheld, non-contact thermometer. Departing guests who are identified as having an elevated body temperature will be advised that they should not travel. Passengers on arriving international flights identified as being potentially ill may be referred to CDC staff on site.
These thermal camera temperature checks are not expected to replace other safety measures in place. To protect guest privacy, the cameras do not store, transmit, or share any data or images taken. Guests who decline to participate will have the opportunity to use a different pathway.
The program marks a partnership with the Carlyle Airport Group through Schneider Electric, which is providing three types of cameras to help determine which is most accurate and effective at detecting potentially ill people. Faith Group will provide an evaluation of the technology and signage. The equipment being tested is on loan at no cost.
The airport will work closely with multiple partners to evaluate the technology including the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), airlines, CDC, and L.A. County Department of Public Health, and results from this program will be shared with these partners and leading airports around the world in an effort to set new standards for the industry.
LAX has taken aggressive action to protect travelers and residents from COVID-19. The airport added signage directing guests to practice social distancing, wear a face covering at all times, and wash their hands frequently. LAX has increased deep cleaning throughout the airport focusing on “high touch” areas, and has installed more than 250 hand sanitizer stations. LAWA is continually working with partners, shops, and restaurants to deliver a seamless, contact-free experience.