Thales is encouraging railways to embrace digital solutions to address the challenges they are facing as the result of COVID-19. The company notes that rail traffic has gone down dramatically during the pandemic, and that many trains may not be able to operate at full capacity even after the economy starts to recover.
Digital solutions can help trains run more efficiently within those limitations. Operators can use AI video analytics to make sure that passengers are wearing masks and observing social distancing requirements, while thermal scanners can check for signs of fever. The technology could be deployed for access control on station platforms and on the trains themselves.
Thales also advocated for driverless trains, which would be enabled through communications-based train control (CBTC) networks. The technology would allow train operators to manage their schedules remotely, and reduce the staffing demands for each individual train.
Thales is optimistic that ridership will eventually return to pre-COVID-19 levels. With that in mind, the company argued that train operators should invest in next-generation railways that are optimized for the digital era. A previous UN report has indicated that green transportation could be a popular target for stimulus funding and generate millions of jobs..
Of course, Thales is not the first company to advocate for thermal screening in the transportation industry. Waltair is already installing a Mantra temperature detection system at the Bhubaneswar, Cuttack, and Vishakhapatnam stations on the east coast of India. DERMALOG, meanwhile, has outfitted Thailand with a biometric border control system that includes thermal scanners. Fever is a common symptom of COVID-19, so identifying people with an elevated temperature can slow the spread of the disease and support public health.
June 12, 2020 – by Eric Weiss