Drone screening system introduced by beach operators to prevent COVID-19

22, Jul. 2020

Image by S. Hermann & F. Richter from Pixabay
Image by S. Hermann & F. Richter from Pixabay

SEOUL, AJU - A drone screening system that detects the body temperature of summer vacationers has been put into test operation at a bathing resort in Wando, a bridge-connected island off South Korea's southwest coast, to prevent the spread of COVID-19. If the drone system yields good results, it will be commercialized for use in outdoor environments.

Wando County said in a statement on July 22 that the demonstration of a drone screening system began on July 17 at Sinji Myeongsasimni Beach on its main island, some 350 kilometers (217 miles) south of Seoul, to pick out vacationers with a high body temperature.

Two drones equipped with thermal imaging cameras fly above the beach to check the body temperature of visitors and see if people are keeping their social distance. Lifeguards will find and kick out those with high body temperature to let them take appropriate steps from health officials.

The drone system to monitor beach vacationers was introduced for the first time in South Korea as part of Wando's three-step solution that includes body temperature checks at bridges, seaports and checkpoints. "The beach will only be open for pre-registered visitors to make sure they stay in an environment where people can keep their social distance of about two meters," a Wando County Tourism Department official told Aju News. About 11,350 tourists have pre-registered to visit the beach's safe zone.

Visitors would be given a wristband to show that they were screened and sanitized at checkpoints. Face masks are obligatory at beaches and other public places. The Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries has issued an administrative order to ban nighttime drinking and eating at 21 major beaches. Violators will be given a fine of three million won ($2,511).

The ministry stressed that holiday-goers should stop visiting crowded beaches and check tourist spots using an online indicator service. Prominent beaches would regulate the permissible number of visitors by receiving reservations. South Korea with three coastal lines opens beaches in early July and shuts down in mid-August