Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire
State Sen. Jesse Kiehl, D-Juneau, has his temperature taken inside the Alaska State Capitol on Jan. 19. The high tech check-ins have become routine over the past few weeks.

Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire State Sen. Jesse Kiehl, D-Juneau, has his temperature taken inside the Alaska State Capitol on Jan. 19. The high tech check-ins have become routine over the past few weeks.

High tech temp check

Devices with camera, infrared scanner part of lawmakers’ routine

When lawmakers arrive at the state Capitol building, one of the first faces they see is their own.

Temperature-scanning kiosks positioned at the entrance read each person’s temperature before they enter the building. The devices are equipped with front-facing cameras, large displays and look a bit like super-sized smartphones placed on a stand.

“You just stand in front of it, and it takes your temperature,” said state Sen. Jesse Kiehl, D-Juneau, in a phone interview this week. “It just says pass and gives you a green to go in.”

State Sen. Jesse Kiehl, D-Juneau, goes through the Alaska State Capitol’s screening process on Jan. 19, 2021. Temperature-checking kiosks are part of that process. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire)

State Sen. Jesse Kiehl, D-Juneau, goes through the Alaska State Capitol’s screening process on Jan. 19, 2021. Temperature-checking kiosks are part of that process. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire)

The kiosks distributed by 986 Labs in Boca Raton, Florida, have been in use since the session started earlier this year.

According to the manufacturer’s website, the kiosks require no physical interaction and generate an automatic temperature reading in one second through the use of a medical-grade infrared scanner. The site lists a temperature scanning speed of less than one second with an accuracy rating within a half of a degree.

“The 986 Temperature Screening Kiosks are one of the fastest and most accurate systems available,” according to the company’s site, which also says the devices provide “a modern, classy look to your environment.”

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Local lawmakers report positive experiences with the devices.

“The temperature screenings are quick and easy,” said Rep. Sara Hannan, D-Juneau. “They seem to prefer you to have your mask not too close to the visual screen.”

Hannan said the overall health screening process has gotten smoother with time. “The first few days, we all bumbled to make sure we had the daily questions filled out in advance and the photo of the latest COVID test ready to present. The system has streamlined, and everyone seems to have figured out to do it quickly,” she said in an email earlier this week.

Rep. Andi Story, D-Juneau, agreed that the temperature taking process is “orderly and efficient.”

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In a phone interview this week, she said that she often ends up having her temperature taken manually despite the technology.

“The kiosk has trouble reading my forehead,” she said. “There are people right inside the door if you need help. It’s been efficient, and I appreciate it,” she added.

Kiehl agreed that the system works but has a few quirks.

“It can be slow, and sometimes they want me to take off my glasses and take down my mask. When I come in from the cold, it won’t read me,” he said.

“My suspicion is that the twice a week COVID testing is the most valuable thing we do there. We can’t all be in a bubble, so we have to test,” he added.

Beacon, the company charged with managing testing protocols and screening at the Capitol, did not return phone calls or emails for this story.

Contact Dana Zigmund at dana.zigmund@juneauempire.com or 907-308-4891.

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