VANCOUVER -- New mass screening technology could help prevent COVID-19 transmissions in schools, and an Abbotsford company has come up with an idea to screen children before they even get to the building.

Gatekeeper Systems has developed a device, which when installed on school buses can take students' temperatures as they board. The company says it already has a contract to put the technology on school buses in Hope and has begun selling it to retailers as well.

“It can measure your temperature in less than a second,” said Doug Dyment, Gatekeeper's CEO.

The Intelligence Temperature Sensing System utilizes thermal cameras, artificial intelligence and video analytics and can accurately measure someone’s temperature from within a distance of 0.6 to 1.5 metres.

School District No. 78, which includes the town of Hope, already has non-temperature-reading Gatekeeper video equipment on its school buses. In a statement to CTV News Vancouver, assistant superintendent Renge Bailie said the temperature check system is another service that Gatekeeper could provide to the district. The school district says it is continuing discussions.

Nick’s Lighting Centre in Chilliwack installed one of Gatekeeper’s temperature sensing systems in November to screen both staff and customers.

“They may not even know they have a fever. Now we can identify that and prevent the problem before it gets through our store,” said owner Don Grasslin.

“This is a piece of technology that can keep the traffic moving quickly,” Dyment said.

The technology that can also capture up to 50,000 face images and data is uploaded to the cloud for future case tracing, if required.

So who controls the data? 

“(Customers) have total control, that’s a great question and in a lot of cases they want to have total control of that data,” Dyment explained. “Our enterprise software can reside at the school district or it can reside at Gatekeeper’s premises.”

Gatekeeper said it has sold many of the temperature checking systems to customers in the U.S. and that it is already in use on school buses in Virginia, Georgia and California, but sales have not taken off in Canada just yet.