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Improving security with visitor management systems

Visitor management systems aren’t just for businesses anymore – increasingly, they are being used at schools, hospitals, federal agencies and other institutions and campuses that need more than just paper logs.


October 28, 2014
By John Fenske

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Today’s systems automate the entire visitor registration process, printing a badge and capturing detailed information in seconds by simply electronically scanning an ID.  They enhance professionalism, improve security, allows users to create watch lists, screen against unwanted visitors, capture detailed visitor information, and perform analysis/reporting on visitor data across multiple locations.

In the educational environment, the primary focus is safety.  Protecting university residence halls is particularly important, and can be challenging in the open environment of most college campuses.  Campus administrators should require all visitors to wear a badge issued to them when they check in.  The system also can be used to screen each visitor on states’ registered sex offender databases and other watch lists and flag any at check in, identify guests who haven’t checked out by the end of visiting hours, and flag and issue alerts for those who may have repeatedly violated check-in procedures or stayed too long.

Hospitals have somewhat different requirements.  Most are quickly replacing paper-based systems with registration solutions that are capable of screening, badging and tracking all visitors or, at a minimum, only those visiting labor and delivery floors, pediatric wards and other critical areas, as well as during “after hours” periods when staff is reduced.  Hospitals should make visitor management an integral part of their facility security strategy, and choose systems with key features including support for the HL7 interface control so visitors can be matched to real-time information about patient status and room numbers.  This ensures that no visitor is ever sent to the wrong location, or to see a patient that has already been discharged.   Systems should also feature Status Blue integration so they can pre-register approved vendors and temporary employees.  During flu season, hospitals can expand visitor management capabilities by installing systems at all entrances to minimize unauthorized access that could further spread viruses.

Federal agencies also have hectic lobbies.  They must quickly process visitor access while ensuring that all security procedures and policies are followed in accordance with Homeland Security Protection Directive-12 (HSPD-12).  Agencies must verify employee Personal Identification Verification (PIV) cards, and also must electronically verify the PIV cards of visitors from other agencies.  Their visitor management systems should not only scan the person’s driver’s license or passport, but also check document security features.  They must also support real-time, online screening against all Government Denied Party databases, law enforcement-related Wanted Persons lists, government lists of politically exposed persons, and lists put together by the Office of the Inspector General, as well as international Terrorist, Blocked Person, Wanted and Entity Lists.  

When it is desirable and appropriate for guests to have free access to the facility, each of these applications can also benefit from the integration of visitor management software with the access control system.  The two systems work together to grant entry to authorized outside personnel, providing the ideal solution for visitor management.

Managing access by visitors and other authorized personnel can be challenging.

Vendors, partners, contractors and other guests who visit frequently require and expect certain levels of access to the facility and people within the organization.

A key ingredient for ensuring effective facility security is to replace paper logs and manual processes with a visitor management system that is easy to use and, ideally, is integrated directly with an organization’s access control system.

John Fenske is Vice President of Marketing with HID Global.


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