Updated: This story was updatd on Monday, April 20, with the new dedicated phone number to request a thermometer.
The city of St. Augustine plans to start its smart thermometer distribution project on Tuesday, April 21, by first targeting people who work with the public and families with multiple children. Residents are asked to call the city to see whether they qualify for a free thermometer.
“The purpose of the project is to give our public health officials a real-time monitoring tool that detects changes in our public health so that they can promptly respond,” City Manager John Regan said in an email.
The internet-connected thermometers, made by the company Kinsa, will feed temperature data to city officials, who will make public health decisions based on areas where fever spikes could signal outbreaks of COVID-19 or other illnesses. The data is monitored through the Kinsa smartphone app, and no personal information is conveyed with temperature measurements.
The city plans to give out 600 of the thermometers to city residents and 300 additional thermometers to people who live outside St. Augustine, thanks to in-kind donations.
“It is our goal to distribute these 900 thermometers so that we can begin collecting data in what will be the densest real-time temperature network in the country,” Regan said.
In his plan submitted to the mayor and City Commission, Regan said due to a drop in call volume to the city due to the coronavirus pandemic, “We will use our current customer service infrastructure that has been idled down” to screen and select participants in the temperature project.
The dedicated thermometer phone number is 904-825.1006, Option 1. Its hours are Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
“Ideally, participants live in a larger household (more than four), and their employment or volunteering puts them in higher level of exposure to larger numbers of people in the community,” Regan said. “These are not only our first responders, public safety officers and healthcare workers, but also schoolteachers, grocery store clerks, restaurant and hospitality workers, or any of the support staff within these professions.”
Callers will be asked six questions:
- Whether they have a mobile phone that connects to the internet
- Whether you or a member of your household physically leaves the home for work and interacts with 10 or more people on any given workday
- How many people live in the household
- If you think a smart thermometer would be helpful
City residents or utility customers who qualify can pick up the device at a drive-through window located at 50 Bridge St. or the city will make arrangements to hand-deliver it to their home.
Non-residents or utility customers who otherwise qualify will be placed on a wait list and will be eligible for next wave of distribution.
Those who don’t qualify for a free thermometer can still participate in the local monitoring project. Any Kinsa device registered in the city is automatically included in the project.
Questions may be directed to the Communications Office at 904-825-1053 or emailed to email@example.com.