A 1-1 draw against Stoke City may not live long in the memory in normal circumstances – but the lengths the club went to ensure the safe return of football to Madejski Stadium meant that game last month was a special occasion.
Virtual post-match press conferences, strictly managed zoned areas, elbow bumps rather than handshakes in the technical area, digital teamsheets, artificial crowd noise pumped into the stadium…this was a matchday like no other we’ve seen before.
And part of the procedure for all those attending the site ahead of the Stoke City clash, was thermal image screening – detecting whether any of the scouts, media, stewards, stadium management or club staff were showing any signs of a high temperature before they entered the stadium.
Infectious viruses such as Covid-19 are easily spread where people congregate, as we have all discovered over the last three months. But we also know that it can be tough to identify people exhibiting symptoms when often they cannot be seen, particularly a fever.
So this procedure had to be swift but also accurate, ensuring player, staff and visitor safety remained of paramount importance throughout the matchday experience at the Madejski.
And we were delighted to be able to call upon a number of thermal imaging phones provided by CAT and their manufacturers – long-term Royals supporters – Bullitt Group. The Cat S61 are the first smartphones with integrated thermal imaging cameras, not requiring any natural light nor physical contact with the individual to read their temperature.
The CAT S61 devices were quickly sent to us and deployed at all entrance points at Madejski Stadium and proved easy for our stewarding staff to use. As a result of this cutting edge technology, we were able to admit everyone to their relevant areas of the stadium with the minimum disruption or delay.
And potentially the use of these devices could be scaled up and provide us with a viable solution which may be able to help the club re-open the stadium to our supporters, as and when it is deemed safe to do so.