Green means go

Jersey City installs temperature and face mask scanners at municipal buildings

New scanners at municipal buildings will give visitors the green light to enter, indicating that they do not have a temperature and that they are wearing a face mask.
New scanners at municipal buildings will give visitors the green light to enter, indicating that they do not have a temperature and that they are wearing a face mask.

Persons entering municipal buildings will now be scanned for fever and compliance with wearing a face mask as the city began rolling out OneScreen GoSafe scanners at 69 municipal buildings the week before the July 4th holiday.

Mayor Steven Fulop said that this is one way the city is prepared for the new normal, noting that there will be changes on every level of government to protect residents and staff from the virus.

“The big changes are going to be in how we screen visitors to City Hall and municipal buildings, police stations, firehouses, to protect the public and also protect our employees,” said Fulop, noting that Jersey City was the first in the state if not the nation to have the new scanners, which he predicts will become commonplace.

“On a daily basis, we see approximately a 1,000 people, plus 100 to 175 employees here, and our main concern is that we want a safe environment for folks to visit and also protecting themselves,” said the city’s head of the Office of Emergency Management Greg Kierce of the municipal courthouse, where the city held a press conference to debut the new technology.

How it works

According to Health and Human Services Director Stacey Flanagan, if anyone has a fever over 100.3 when they are scanned they will not be allowed to enter a municipal building, and they will be asked to go home and monitor their temperature.

She said they will also be given information regarding COVID-19 and how to get additional testing, noting that the city would also do contact tracing to see if the individual came into contact with a known positive COVID-19 individual.

While the scan also checks to see if an individual is wearing a face mask, Fulop noted that there is no data collection or facial recognition software aspect to the scan.

“We’re not data storing any of this stuff, we know that people are concerned with that, but this is really to protect the public, protect the city, and we’re not looking to do any sort of facial recognition, data storage, or use it any other way,” he said.

Kimberly Wallace-Scalccione, city spokesperson, added that the scanners “have zero network connectivity.”

Those who do not have a fever and are wearing a mask will be given a green light from the scan that they can enter. Those who have a temperature or are not wearing a mask will be given a red light.

By the end of the second week in July, there will be 44 scanners installed in municipal buildings across the city as phase one is complete. Locations include City Hall, the City Hall Annex, the Bethune Center, Pershing Field, the Municipal Court House, the Parking Enforcement Building, all public libraries, the Police Department Head Quarters, and Fire Department Headquarters, and others.

In Phase two, 25 scanners will be placed in all firehouses and police stations.

The scanners cost about $1,850 per unit and will be covered through CARES Act Funding, according to Kirce.

Business Administrator Brian Platt said the city is making physical changes to municipal offices, such as installing barriers like partitions and Plexiglas and having employees work in smaller pods so that if one employee gets sick, an entire department is not out on quarantine for 14 days.

Flanagan added that the city began taking staff temperatures as early as April.

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