Business & Marketing
How to choose a visitor management system
By Bruce Gibson
A Visitor Management System is a completely automated software and hardware system that manages all on-premise activities for staff, visitors and contractors. With the events in the last decade, now even schools are big prospects and there are others, such as; governments, military, police/fire, companies that have government contracts, high tech, power generation, health care facilities, casinos, banks/financial, retail, oil and gas, pharmaceutical, chemical processing and any company that has ever experienced industrial espionage.
By Bruce Gibson
Vulnerable and liable
world has changed. Workplace violence, industrial espionage and global
terrorism threaten the security of personnel and property. When
facility entrances aren’t secure, companies are vulnerable — and
liable. A visitor management system that comprises software tools and
ID validation, combined with physical barriers and a well-designed
lobby, can keep the wrong people out and let the right people in,
quickly and efficiently.
Where to begin
lobby is the single-most important security point in any building or
facility where protection of personnel and property is paramount. A
complete lobby system must be in place that supports security
physically, electronically and procedurally. Visitor management systems
are an integral element of the total system and must be capable of:
and quickly capturing pertinent visitors’ personal ID information
everything from contact information to (optional) photos
one-time-use visitor badges that feature the visitor’s name,
affiliation, host name and authorized areas of access, as well as the
badge’s expiration time.
visitors online ahead of time — and be notified electronically or by
phone when a visitor arrives.
Look for the specs
minimum computer compatibility should work for small companies as well
as large ones, so these specs are commonly available in most operations
— Microsoft Windows, 2000/XP Server, 2003/Vista, Pentium III or faster,
256 MB RAM, 32 MB free hard disk space.
Look for a system that
works with all Windows compatible barcode and Prox Card scanners
including keyboard wedge scanners, USB Scanners and RFIDeas USB Prox
Ensure that the system makes entering new
cardholder data quick and easy by integrating support for CSSN Card
Scanners. Simply scan a driver’s license or passport and data will be
automatically entered into the appropriate database fields. You need to
be able to add images, such as: Bitmap (BMP), Photoshop (PSD), TIFF,
GIF, PNG, JPEG, WMF and PPM.
Next, make sure it has the
languages you require, as you may need more than one language per
location and several others around the world. Also, it should support
all of the popular databases, so you can connect and manage your
existing database or create a new one to meet your needs, e.g.
Microsoft SQL Server, Microsoft Access, Microsoft Excel, Microsoft
FoxPro, Photo database and other stand alone databases.
want to be able to add and maintain photos or scanned images for your
card or label. You should acquire the images from your camera, scanner
or any TWAIN/WIA compatible device and insert them directly to your
card or label, save them to your database, or export them as graphic
There are many different types of barcode formats and each has its own set of advantages.
system should automatically identify returning visitors, such as
contractors and consultants, expected visitors and visitors on a watch
list. In addition, it can also automatically notify the host employee
of a visitor’s arrival. Ideally, for employee entrances and remote
entries, you can also look for specs that allow you to register
visitors through a remote self-serve kiosk. For many companies, it’s
important to integrate with Microsoft Outlook Calendar or Lotus Notes
for automated visitor pre-registration. Lastly, you need to easily and
quickly generate detailed reports of visitor traffic by employee,
department or building. This will be very practical if there is an
emergency and you want to know where everyone is.
Logbooks vs. digital
digital system provides an audit trail that’s easy to create and
access. When facilities rely on logbooks, reusable visitor badges and
security guards to manage incoming visitors, security breaches can
occur more readily than with automated systems:
unauthorized visitors can use unreturned badges to infiltrate your
facility and gain access to employees, restricted areas, equipment,
compounds or proprietary data.
Bruce Gibson is President of Express Entry Exit Inc.