How Silco Fire and Security’s new tech matches their safety-oriented mission
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought out the best in Ohio’s companies. From startups creating new technologies to established companies pivoting to an impactful new mission to help fight the virus, Ohio’s innovation has led to some major breakthroughs. That spirit and can-do attitude is how Silco Fire and Security, a well-established company based in Cincinnati, came to find themselves at the forefront of thermal imaging technology, offering a new set of products that’s helping organizations return to their buildings safely.
“We talk a lot about the purpose of our company — to protect people and property,” said Silco President Dave Fraser. “As the pandemic started, we began asking ‘What else can we do to keep our customers safe?’ We work with about 25,000 customers in Ohio, so we have a wide range of options we could look into. One of our team members brought up thermal detection tech and found some products that had just recently been offered. We tested them in our own offices to ensure they were up to our standards and then started offering them to our customers.”
Silco is able to provide two thermal imaging options. The first works from a tablet computer, which can scan for people’s temperatures, detect face masks and create a check-in procedure when entering a building. For example, a company can set up a system that ensures they’re wearing a mask and don’t have a fever before allowing a door to open. For larger organizations with many people to scan, a camera system Silco calls the “panda-cam” can assess up to 32 people at once, logging temperatures and alerting administrators of problems.
For a company accustomed to preventing break-ins, fires and other emergencies, keeping people safe is nothing new. But in the midst of a pandemic that has dominated conversations for months, that mission has been brought even further to the forefront.
“This is definitely a feel-good part of our job,” said Fraser. “Of course, what we typically offer has that effect, but sometimes you can lose sight of it. Every business exists to make profit, but we have a purpose too. We realize that we need to be very careful about the quality and thoroughness of our products because they have to work when you need them. And you can see that because this product is getting attention from the top. We’re not typically working with CEOs and presidents, but in this case we’re working with companies’ leaders because it’s so important.”
Silco’s tech isn’t just for the workplace, however. Their new tech has been a big hit in schools too, especially those that are preparing to return to classes. At Columbus’s Patriot Preparatory Academy, they’ve been using Silco’s typical fire and security equipment for a decade. But when they found out about the new thermal imaging tech, they saw it as a way to keep kids safe, serving as an example of how impactful the tech can be.
“We have a high level of trust with Silco already, so we were already interested,” said Patriot Prep Superintendent Sean Smith. “When we surveyed our parents, one of the things they were most in favor of was thermal imaging technology. Something like 90 percent thought it was very important for us to check students’ temperatures on arrival. Logistically, it’s very tough to test every student without having to check them all individually. We didn’t want students to have to individually have their temperature taken in public. With this technology, we can protect everyone without being invasive, so it’s great.”
Silco is working to deploy their new tech across the state. Fraser said dozens of companies and close to 100 cameras are in place across Ohio. They’re being used at the Cleveland National History Museum and Cleveland Museum of Art, the Union County Justice Center and a variety of manufacturing facilities, offices, daycares and churches. Fraser says Silco isn’t going to become a thermal imaging-focused company overnight, but he’s seen the important effects this new tech can have on an organization.
“A lot of people want to know what returning to work or school is going to look like and the interest we’ve received has been really diverse. We’re all dealing with the same pandemic, and we need to stay safe. From what i’m hearing from my team, this technology is helping people stay safer by screening temperatures, but it’s also making people feel safer because you know you’re entering a facility that’s taking your safety seriously. People know the company has gone above and beyond with safety measures.