Hawaii installs thermal screening and facial recognition for arrivals

Thermal screening equipment going in at 5 airports

Hawaii is installing thermal screening and facial recognition at public airports to identify arriving passengers with a high temperature.

Thermal temperature screening equipment is being installed now at Daniel K. Inouye International Airport (HNL), Kahului Airport (OGG), Lihue Airport (LIH), Ellison Onizuka Kona International Airport at Keahole (KOA) and Hilo International Airport (ITO).

NEC and its partner Infrared Cameras are installing the system.

The implementation is in three stages:

  • Phase 1 – temperature scanners installed this month at gates currently being used for arriving trans-Pacific flights
  • Phase 2 – temperature scanners installed at the remaining gates in the coming weeks
  • Phase 3 – expects to have the facial recognition equipment installed by December 31, 2020
The photograph illustrates an example of the technology to be used at Hawaii’s airports to help identify people with an elevated temperature of 100.4 degrees or above. Image: NEC

There are few details about how the technology actually works. 

Temperature scanning

It seems that the thermal cameras will picture every arriving passenger.

The system will temporarily retain a picture of a person with an elevated temperature of 100.4 degrees and above. The picture will be erased within 30 minutes and will not be shared with any outside agencies.

Anyone with a temperature below 100.4 degrees will not have their image retained at all.

Facial recognition

The facial recognition system apparently only takes a picture of passengers who exceed the temperature threshold. It is so that airport staff will be able to pull them aside.

The system will not automatically have a passenger’s personal information, such as their name, address or driver license number. It will not contain information about criminal history or outstanding warrants.

BUT, what will it link to?


NEC and Texas-based Infrared Cameras were selected with a proposal of $23.3 million for equipment and installation and a 10-year maintenance plan of $1.42 million annually for a total contract amount of $37.5 million.

The state ran a pilot in June with five companies demonstrating their technologies at Honolulu, Kailua-Kona, Hilo, Kahului and Lihue airports.

N.B. Image credits: NEC

Internet links

Hawaii Department of Transportation


Infrared Cameras Inc