Festival of Nations: Thermal Images to Protect Against Covid-19


Despite continued concerns over the novel coronavirus/ COVID-19 infections, the Bavarian state government hoped to convey a sense of normalcy in 2020 by holding the “Festival of Nations” in the Weltheilbad in Bad Wörishofen/Allgäu. A central component in realizing a safe, educational cultural event was to promote hygiene during the event and provide some protections by setting up four skin temperature screening stations with thermal imaging cameras from FLIR

About the festival of nations

More than 25 years ago, an idea became reality: a single children’s event grew into a variety of support projects for children and young adults. The “Festival of Nations”, which has set many unknown artists on the road to international recognition,
established a mission to preserve tradition, discover new talent, and realize innovative projects through the enthusiasm of young people. For this reason, support projects form one of the three pillars of the classical festival, along with the festival’s promotion of current star artist and “Young World Elite” upcoming artists.

FLIR A500-EST screening station
The FLIR A500-EST screening station was positioned at the VIP entrance where most visitors were invited guests.

Festival of nations in the year of the pandemic

COVID-19 turned the start of the festival year 2020 upside down. Festival director Winfried Roch and his team were concerned they wouldn’t be able to open the festival safely, but thanks to the director’s professional connections in Asia, a sound hygiene and safety concept was developed. By placing FLIR thermal imaging technology at the entrances in the concert hall foyer, the team was able to provide some safety assurances to concert-goers.

Sophisticated concept

The plan for holding a safe event amid a pandemic was subject to strict health requirements, which the Festival team conveyed transparently to the audience: masks covering the mouth and nose worn until the guest took their seat (with a recommendation that masks be worn voluntarily during the concert), a limit of 200 guests in a hall normally designed for 900, individual admission times to prevent queues, four different entrances with a colored guidance system all the way into the hall, and thermal image screening stations at the four entrances.

The plan was convincing, so local authorities allowed the festival to take place in 2020 despite all adversities. “All of our internationally renowned artists such as Rolando Villazón, Julia Fischer, Rudolf Buchbinder, Alice Sara Ott, Daniil Trifonov and the 12 cellists of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra supported our concept and performed as planned,” festival director Winfried Roch confirmed – even two times each, due to the restrictions. So that as many visitors as possible could enjoy the concerts in the hall, which was limited to 200 guests, each performance was repeated in front of a new audience after a break

FLIR partner, TOPA, installed four screening stations

From the very beginning it was clear that thermal imaging camera screening stations should contribute to ensuring maximum safety for visitors and artists. For these, director Winfried Roch approached TOPA (www.topa.de), a FLIR Platinum Partner for thermal imaging cameras. TOPA recommended one temperature screening station at each of the four entrances to the concert hall. The thermal cameras measure skin temperature at the inner canthus, or the eyes’ tear duct. While the cameras cannot detect fever or disease, the presence of an elevated skin temperature could be one sign of fever. If further checks showed the guest’s temperature was truly elevated, they were not allowed to enter.

“We are familiar with these thermal imaging cameras from Asia,” explained festival director Winfried Roch in the newspaper Augsburger Allgemeine Zeitung. “They have not really taken off in Europe yet. But we think they are an important step towards greater safety.”

Using the CAMERA’S SCREEN-EST™ measurement mode

At three entrances, TOPA used a FLIR E54- EST on a tripod. This camera offers FLIR Screen-EST mode to measure and visualize heat for rapid detection of an elevated skin temperature. With a resolution of 320 × 240 thermal image pixels and a bright touchscreen display, the E54-EST provides accurate, easy-to-interpret temperature measurement. The FLIR Screen-EST mode integrated into the camera offers visual positioning marks, automatic sampling to update the average temperature and a graphical pass/fail display of the results: if there is no elevated temperature, the connected screen turns green

VIP screening with additional software

A FLIR A500-EST was used at the fourth entrance. With its 464 × 348-pixel thermal imaging detector and FLIR Screen-EST mode integrated into the camera, the A500-EST can be used as a stand-alone screening station or within a network. But the camera can also be connected to most video management systems and is compatible with the desktop software FLIR Screen-EST. Although this software requires an additional computer on site, it has the advantage of faster throughput compared to the other three systems used.


“The execution of the Festival of Nations has shown that culture does have a chance, even in challenging times, and, with a professional hygiene and safety concept, can delight large numbers of concert-goers,” says festival director Winfried Roch, in summary. “The TOPA team & the manufacturer FLIR supported the central message: safe concerts despite coronavirus!”