Over the past 15 years the visitor management market has evolved from a simple “hello my name is” label to roaming officers processing visitors with 4G-enabled tablets and evacuation systems that automatically notify both employees and visitors at the time of an emergency. One of the most recent trends in visitor management is Software as a Service (SaaS), which allows an online visitor management to be hosted or managed, and gives the user an easily accessible record of visitors in the building at any given time. An enterprise security director or even local authorities can access real-time data, from any computer, laptop or even a smartphone. Many visitor management systems today have IT limitations that prohibit rapid deployment or widespread adoption. iVisitor by Veristream, Orlando, Florida, is an online SaaS visitor management system that has processed more than seven million visitors globally over the last year with predictions of exceeding 10 million per year by the end of 2015. This story features Portland’s NBC affiliate KGW Channel 8and its implementation of the solution.
KGW decided to conduct a thorough security assessment of its building, which not only houses their 180 employees, but also two tenants: Comcast Sports Net, a cable broadcaster, and Advanced Broadcast Solutions, an equipment reseller.
“It was recommended that we institute some kind of visitor management process,” Boyd says.
He began looking around at the different options available and ruled out paper badges as not being thorough enough. “With a paper solution it would be hard for anyone else to know who was in the building,” he says. This was also a consideration with in-house systems he looked at. “If there is a fire or evacuation we want to be able to have some record to report to the fire department of who is in the building. If you have a paper system or one located on the computers inside your offices, you would have to take that with you to have that information.”
For that reason, Boyd decided on the system: a real-time Web-based system that allows each employee to manage visitors individually through their own personal iVisitor account.
Easy to Use
The system allows KGWemployees to pre-register guests, entering the date and time of the expected visit and even automatically emailing the guest directions to the building. The employee can select what department they are visiting, choose how they want to be alerted of the guest’s arrival, such as by text or email, or look up a past guest and reschedule them without having to reenter information.
“The nice thing is it doesn’t require any administration,” Boyd says. When an employee joins the company or needs to have the ability to register guests, they can self-enroll in the iVisitor system.
Upon arriving at the station, the visitor presents their ID to be scanned by the front desk. If they are pre-registered it pulls up their information automatically. If not, it fills it in automatically. “It is a quick process for the front desk, and we also know for sure the person is who they say they are,” Boyd says.
“When someone needs to have unescorted access in and out of the building, we can program an access card for them, and they can have temporary access – all managed through the system,” he adds.
In all cases the system produces a printed badge. For temporary access control situations, another RFID badge is printed as well, which is then placed behind the visitor ID badge.
While the majority of visitors check in at the front desk, KGWalso had a kiosk installed in their lobby for visitors who are pre-registered and don’t want to wait. “With an average of 10-20 visitors per day, we generally have enough support at the front desk,” Boyd says. “But if we have two or three guests come in at once, pre-registered visitors have the option of using the kiosk to print out the badge themselves.”
The system has been working well since its installation in 2012. “I think the fact that I don’t hear anything is a good sign,” Boyd jokes. “Generally I only hear about things when there is a problem. I never hear about this system, but I know it is being used.”
Employees are currently able to pre-register guests both from their desktop and from their home computer or laptop. KGWis collaborating with Veristream to work on an app that will also allow them to do it from their cellphones in the near future.
“The system gives us a sense of security because of the pre-registration process,” Boyd says. “There is a good communication path. If the front desk doesn’t know what is going on they can’t provide effective security up front. This allows them to know ahead of time what to expect.”
It has also had a side benefit of alleviating a common parking issue that was occurring:
“We have very limited visitor parking,” Boyd explains. “By having this online system it is easy for us to check and see what visitors we have, how many are in the building and whether someone is abusing the visitor lot privileges.
“The main thing we were trying to address with this system was the security surrounding the visitors and to provide a better organized, consistent process for that. I believe we have done that very effectively.”
Key Considerations When Planning a Visitor Management System:
- Defining types of visitors.
- Defining number of check-in points and method of verification.
- Visitor identification policy and type of visitor badge.
- After-hours and weekend policies.
- How to manage lost or forgotten employee access cards and processing.
- How to manage “Do Not Admit” people.
- Acceptable methods of ID verification.
- Evacuation policy and mustering process.