Checking Into Visitor Management Solutions
Show of hands: how many of you have visited a building where you were asked to sign a paper guest log? OK, now how many of you have signed “Mickey Mouse” to see if anything would happen? Chances are, nobody noticed. And that is one of the biggest security issues with the paper guest log.
Yes, it is very inexpensive and very easy to use, but when it comes to security and today’s mandate to keep track of who is in a building and why, the old paper and pen method fails miserably.
Now, how many of your customers are still using a paper guest log to track visitors to their own buildings? And what about that generic handwritten badge they have the visitor stick on his/her lapel? Not only does it look shoddy, but it is also very easy to copy, which means just about anyone could create their own “valid” visitor badge and waltz right on in.
In today’s elevated security environment, the paper guest log for visitors and contractors has a number of critical shortcomings:
- You can’t always read people’s handwriting
- You can’t collect detailed, accurate information
- You can’t capture a photo of the visitor
- The information is not confidential; it is sitting there for any other visitor to look at
- People can make up an employee’s name to get into the building, or just copy the name of an employee that someone else wrote
- In the event of an emergency, you cannot quickly pull together a list of who is still in the building (especially if you can’t read people’s names)
- Handwritten, generic badges are too easy to copy
- This method does not instill a sense of security in either visitors or employees
Now let’s take a look at more advanced, alternative systems you can offer your customers to assure their visitor management is as effective as the rest of the electronic security systems and services you provide to them.
A Better Way for Your Customers to Manage Their Visitors
Almost 10 years ago, software companies started developing a computerized way to process visitors more accurately, quickly and easily. The goals of these systems were to improve security and enhance the customers’ image by enabling them to more professionally deal with visitors and contractors.
With a standard personal computer and an inexpensive label printer, these systems allowed you to fill in a simple visitor form on the screen, then print a high-quality, customized badge for each visitor. Since all visitor information was stored in a database, these early “visitor management systems” also allowed you to do quick searches and print reports with just a few mouse clicks. The information about each visitor was detailed, accurate and kept confidential (only the guard or receptionist could view the data, not the visitors).
Over time, these systems continued to evolve and add features, making them even more secure, more customizable, easier to use and faster. Today, the leading visitor management systems are integrated with a number of peripheral hardware devices such as passport scanners, driver’s license readers, business card scanners, digital cameras, electronic signature capture pads and barcode scanners.
Rather than having to type each visitor’s information into the system, an end user can now scan or read their passport/driver’s license/business card to automatically capture their name, company, title, phone number, E-mail, address, license number and expiration date, date of birth, photo, etc. — all within a few seconds.
The use of a digital camera also allows an end user to capture the visitor’s photo and print it on the badge in full color. For places of business where visitors are required to read and agree to a nondisclosure agreement, a rules and regulations statement or any other document, the more sophisticated visitor management systems can capture the visitor’s signature electronically as part of the visitor record and link that signature to the type of document that was read and agreed to.
The better systems also now enable you to print barcodes on the visitor badge, allowing end users to simply “scan” each visitor’s badge on the way out, so the system can track the date and time that the person left and keep an accurate record of who is still in the building.
Access Control Integration Among Value-Added Features Available
Today’s electronic visitor management systems offer an assortment of attractive and useful features that can be tailored according to the application. Let’s take a closer look.
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