While many resellers, integrators and consultants focus on a variety of security management solutions, visitor management is often overlooked. The fact is providing visitor management systems in your product line can add a great deal of value and complement existing security products.
Organizations of all kinds can benefit substantially by upgrading and modernizing their visitor ID badging techniques. In many facilities today, visitors entering a secure building, facility or campus are able to gain access by simply scribbling their name in a visitor logbook.
A visitor management system improves lobby security and protects the confidentiality of recent visitors, unlike a paper log that results in names being out in the open for anyone to see. Although many view a paper method of visitor sign-in to be quick and easy, it is fraught with a number of security problems and diminishes the professionalism of an organization. Issues abound such as:
- More often than not the visitor sign-in names are either illegible or false
- In an emergency such as a fire, it would be impossible to quickly determine who’s still in the building because it is difficult to read the names and check out times are not always required or enforced
- Information on who has visited the organization is readily available for everyone to see, but this information should be confidential
- The paper log presents a poor image to visitors and lax security
To address these issues, security dealers and integrators are able to fill a need by recommending, and in some cases administrating, secure visitor management for their clients. Visitor software typically resides on a PC at the reception desk or other points of entry, and automates the entire process from registering a visitor to using badge maker software to create and print visitor ID badges.
Visitor Management Components
Let’s look at the major components of a secure visitor management solution:
Scan the visitor ID: This involves the use of a scanner, either an optical character recognition (OCR) scanner or one that can read the magnetic stripe or 2-D barcode on the back of a driver’s license. A visitor’s ID can consist of a driver’s license, business card, passport, government or military ID, and the user should have the capability of scanning multiple types of credentials.
The benefit of an optical scan of a driver’s license is that, in addition to capturing the information on the license such as the name, a user can also capture the photo of the visitor and include it on a visitor ID badge.
Capture other information as needed: Not all information can be gleaned from a scan of a visitor’s ID. Users may need to capture a signature with a signature capture pad, take a photo with a Web cam, or enter any other information such as the person being visited, the reason for their visit and the category of visitor (contractor, versus day visitor, etc.). Much of this additional information can be entered with drop-down menus or check boxes in the visitor software.
Print a customized visitor badge: Visitor IDs can consist of a variety of different sizes and types, and can include adhesive, clip-on, self-laminating, expiring, and badges inserted in a plastic sleeve. Unlike an employee badge that is usually a hard plastic, visitor badges tend to be more temporary and made out of paper or card stock. They can also be produced with a black-and-white or color printer.
An inexpensive option for black-and-white badges is to use a thermal printer that does not contain ink cartridges. A visitor badge can contain basically any information that was scanned or captured during visitor check-in. The visitor software will allow the user to customize the visitor badge to contain the information that they decide is most important to them.
Analyze visitor data: By using a report wizard in the visitor system, users can generate customized reports in seconds, and store and disseminate report data instantly.
Visitor software should not be complicated to use or take a long time to check in a visitor. A lobby attendant should be able to quickly identify the fields that are necessary to complete visitor registration, scan an ID and print a visitor badge in about 20 seconds per visitor. However, a good visitor system should have a great deal of flexibility so an administrator can tailor the visitor data capture for their specific needs. Because each organization is unique with its own set of requirements on managing visitors, it’s important to use a system that can be adapted to address user concerns.
Any number of visitor badging systems can be stationed in different locations in an enterprise, even at remote field offices, and they can all share a central database over the network for monitoring and reporting.
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