Professor Jiang, together with collaborators Andrew Rundle, associate professor of epidemiology at the Mailman School of Public Health, and Teresa Spada, director of operations at ColumbiaDoctors Midtown, have received funding for the project “Low-Cost Continuous Multi-Person Fever Detection for a Safer COVID-19 and Post-COVID-19 World”. This grant was awarded under the “Technology Innovations for Urban Living in the Face of COVID-19” RFP.
Paramount to the curtailment of infectious diseases, such as COVID-19, is the ability to perform detection and screening at scale. However, existing approaches to fever screening are inadequate due to several reasons: 1) handheld thermometers-based approach requires an employee to point the thermometer at a single target in close proximity for a few seconds at a time, which is unsafe and time consuming; 2) COVID-19 is shown to have a relatively long incubation period, resulting in negative fever tests; in addition, one could take fever reducing medication, further reducing the effectiveness of one-shot fever screenings employed at hospital entrances and airports; and 3) the typical cost of high accuracy skin temperature measurement equipment ranges between $10,000 to $30,000, which is not affordable for small businesses. In addition, this kind of equipment requires users to walk through some sort of “gate”, which is only possible in controlled situations.
Professor Jiang and the team propose to develop a technology to perform continuous skin temperature measurements at-scale and at-low-cost, enabling continuous fever screening of populations in and at entrances to their natural habitats, such as hospitals, schools, businesses, cafes, restaurants, mass transits, road and bridge toll/EasyPass booths, homes and workspaces, without disrupting their day-to-day activities. The use of such technology would be of tremendous benefit for tracking the spread of disease, evaluating potential risk to transit riders and workers, and building epidemiologic community risk models. Technology for widespread, continuous fever screening would provide an early warning system for new emerging infectious diseases that are certain to follow this current pandemic and for monitoring and responding to seasonal flu.