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Leveraging technology for security, safety and health

As COVID-19 still spreads throughout the world, there is mounting evidence that the social distancing measures that public entities, private enterprises, and individuals have embraced, are having an effect on flattening the curve. However, there is still much to learn and do, yet at the same time, we still need to protect frontline staff within essential service industries better, such as those in healthcare, food services and yes, data centers.

The data center industry has always required the highest levels of security on multiple fronts to keep client equipment, and ultimately their businesses, operating without interruption. It’s important to mitigate all types of risk and this is often achieved through the combination of people, technology and integrated processes to keep data centers safe and secure. With the COVID-19 pandemic, we must also make data centers healthier environments to protect specialized field technicians, office employees and necessary visitors who need to come to the data center as we work to reduce the spread of the disease.

At our Global Data Centers Frankfurt 1 campus, also home to a Technology Experience Lab, we’re now testing an enhanced visitor management solution. We’re using a self-registration visitor kiosk that uses passport control level ID verification and facial matching. In addition to secure registration features, we’re using components that can measure the temperature of all visitors. The aim is to identify, in real-time, potential carriers of COVID-19 or other flu-like viruses. The kiosk is also being programmed to ask visitors if they have been in contact with infected people or if they have recently returned from a COVID-19 hotspot. When a user, whether this is a visiting guest or full-time employee, passes both criteria satisfactorily, he or she is allowed further access within the building by main reception. The entire process is very quick for individuals and ensures that privacy concerns and regulations are strictly adhered to.

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The visitor management kiosk with thermal monitoring functionality

As we start our testing, we do realize that there are some limitations in that the kiosk cannot flag all infected visitors because of:

  • asymptomatic people who do not show any signs of a fever and/or;
  • people who knowingly or unknowingly answer COVID-19 related questions on the kiosk inaccurately.

But we’re just at the beginning of leveraging technology to identify a percentage of infected users better, in order to protect a larger population group. This is the first step in the process to make our work areas safer while improving the security and facility processes. We’re currently testing the kiosk on two floors with the intention of rolling it out to additional entrances and sites where security personnel, technicians, other essential workers and visitors will be using it. In addition, we plan to make use of features that essentially provide a contactless experience by allowing mobile devices to pre-register visits, and where phones can be used as temporary key cards but without compromising overall security.

We plan a follow-up blog to discuss our tests and future plans to make data centers even more secure and healthy.