Visitor Management – the final piece in the security puzzle?

Christian Berenger Operations Director at Vanquish Integrated People Solutions leads the calls for Visitor Management solutions.

He talks to Qube Facilities Management Magazine in the June 2016 issue and warns organisations that they risk compromising security by failing to sufficiently monitor and limit access to visitors.

Ask facilities managers about what security solutions they have in place at their buildings and immediately what springs to mind is manned security, access control, CCTV and perimeter fencing.

Yet many overlook the significant security risks posed by visitors who are given easy access to premises on a daily basis during working hours.

Managing who is on site and delivering security is a complex challenge in the facilities industry due to the high volume of visitors who can be on site at any one time.

Take a multi—tenant building, for instance. If there are 50 businesses in one building, there is a huge likelihood of people not knowing everybody operating in the same building. This is compounded by visitors coming and going every day on legitimate business, from individuals arriving for a meeting with a member of staff to suppliers, delivery drivers and contractors.

That’s not to say visitors shouldn’t be trusted but, whatever the reason for their visit, they all present a potential risk which must be taken seriously.

Visitor Management
Removing manual systems

FM providers have a duty of care for ensuring the safety and security of everyone on site for both legislative and insurance requirements. Failing to do so can land them in hot water.

Health and Safety regulations mean companies could face a civil lawsuit if a visitor is injured as a result of their breach of duty, while non-compliance can leave an organisation open to a possible criminal prosecution, with serious fines in place for individuals held responsible for neglect.

When it comes to recording visitor attendance, the problem is that most organisations unknowingly contribute to the situation by relying on traditional pen and paper systems to record who is on site at any given time.

Walk in to any premise nowadays and it is commonplace to be greeted with a customary ‘signing in’ book asking to provide your name and time of arrival.

Paper-based systems may be seen as a quick and easy solution but the reality is that they hinder security and are vulnerable.

Firstly they are susceptible to errors, names may be hard to decipher and false information may be given. Secondly, check-out times are not always requested or enforced, making it hard to account for everybody in the event of an emergency situation. Finally, confidential information about individuals who have visited the building is readily visible to everyone.

The reception is the single-most important security point in any building and requires a robust and streamlined system to mitigate risk.

Visitor Management Self-Service

Moving to an automated Visitor Management software system removes the human element and streamlines the process to help establish the reception area as the first line of defence to protect employees and visitors alike.

Self-service is at the heart of today’s systems and enable organisations to benefit from a semi or fully unmanned reception.

Touchscreen terminals reduce the registration process to a matter of seconds, capturing detailed information whilst providing an opportunity to engage with visitors.

Simple step-by-step instructions verify whether the individual is expected and capture pertinent information such as name, company arrival time, reason for visiting and car registration number. Meanwhile messages can be configured to inform visitors of fire drill procedures and the identity the fire marshal and first aider on site for that particular day.

Once a visitor provides all required information, a badge can be automatically printed and an email notification alert pinged to their host, announcing their arrival.

The individual’s attendance is automatically uploaded to a central database, allowing managers to gain a clear and accurate view of exactly who is on on-site at any given time and to whom, or what task, they are assigned to.

Additionally, the visitor is automatically logged on to a live fire roll call so managers can instantly account for every individual in the event of an emergency and, importantly, the person they are associated with.

Should a fire break out, an automatic roll call report can be sent out to a designated printer of emailed to a fire marshal on the alarm being triggered so emergency services can determine exactly who was on site at the time of the incident.

Security through integration

Whilst a standalone visitor management system is a big improvement on any paper system in distinguishing visitors and why they are present, organisations need to adopt holistic approach to site security and consider how visitor management can be integrated with other systems on their infrastructure to tighten security.

Integration with access control allows visitor movements to be tracked and entry to sensitive areas restricted at all times.

Individual access levels can be determined by door, date and time so visitors only have access to areas they require.

Adding biometric terminals to the mix, such as hand or fingerprint recognition, also adds an extra level of security. The terminals work by recording and storing an algorithm of an individual’s finger or hand, with the same credential then used to automate the check-in process for repeat visitors and gain access to doors.

By combining biometrics and access control, managers can quickly track their whereabouts on site and pinpoint their exact location by referring to the data to see the last door they activated.

Security is maintained at all times. Even if visitors mistakenly fail to clock out properly on departure, the fact that the visitor management system is integrated with access control means they will be denied access after a specified time and date has expired if they attempt to return.

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Managing SLAs

In addition to managing and safeguarding visitors, an efficient Visitor Management system can also help facilities organisations to better monitor and enforce Service Level Agreements with third party contractors.

Scheduling functions enable managers to enrol the entire lifecycle of a contractors’ planned visit in advance.

Looking at a multi-tenancy building again as an example, a contractor booked to carry out a repair on the centre’s air-conditioning system can be pre-registered into the system and this information shared with clients on site so they are fully aware of the impending visit.

Meanwhile the data generated provides a complete historical audit trail of all visits on site, from which managers can analyse the contractor’s performance over a period of time.

Using the data managers can quickly determine the last time the air conditioning system was serviced, who carried it out and when, and whether the contractor has kept to their service intervals.

Visitor Management isn’t a difficult process yet many organisations get it horribly wrong because they simply don’t pay enough attention to the threat posed by this group of people.  Subsequently many have had to ‘make do’ with manual systems.

But visitors should not be overlooked. They provide a very real and imminent threat which needs mitigating from the moment they step through the front door.

Access Control, CCTV and manned security all have a role to play. Visitor management represents the final piece in the jigsaw to ensure there is no weak link in security.

 

For more information call 0121 773 7222 or visit www.vanquish-ips.com

 

 

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